Argentina's rare breed Imhoff groomed for sevens

Fri, 05 Aug 2016 19:13
Large juan imhoff 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Argentina's Juan Imhoff is a rarity in the men's rugby sevens at the Rio Olympics, an all-out XVs star who, along with New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams, has successfully transitioned into the abbreviated game.

Imhoff has been one of the most consistent wings in Europe over several seasons, his Paris-based Racing 92 club last season winning the Top 14 and finishing beaten finalists in the European Cup.

The 28-year-old, capped 35 times by Los Pumas, is a proven try-scorer and quickly became a fixture at Racing after his signing in 2011.

Despite playing for Argentina in the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, Imhoff insists turning out at the Olympics will be more important.

"Being here is the biggest moment of my career," Imhoff told AFP in an interview.

"I have managed to achieve many things nice things that have filled me with pride, but to be in this, in my opinion the biggest sporting event in the world, is something unique.

"I thought that before coming and now that I am here, living at the Olympic village, I realise that it's the greatest thing I've ever experienced."

The Olympic dream, Imhoff said, made the Rio outing special.

"Being here is another dimension, it's simply the best thing you can experience in your career," he said.

"We all watch the Olympic Games on television, whether it is rugby or another sport. I watched the Olympics, I always dreamed, I always watch them.

"I'm thrilled for Argentina, I'm a fan and to be here and live this is incredible."

Argentina have been drawn against tournament favourites Fiji, the United States and hosts Brazil in the pool stages of the round-robin competition that runs for three days from Tuesday.

"We don't talk about medals, and we're not talking about victories," the wing insisted.

"We talked about trying to inspire a world and a society, which today needs the values of sport and our game - respect, peace, humility and sacrifice."

Turning to pool action, Imhoff added: "They are all key games. Fiji are the best in the world, the US team are very tough opponents and Brazil are playing at home, which is a massive boost for them.

"On paper Brazil are the weakest team, but playing at home gives you a mental edge.

"If you go into a game half-asleep, it gets complicated. In Sevens, anyone can beat anyone, but we'll try to do our homework."

Agence France-Presse

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Pool 00
Team P W D L Pts
Brazil 7s 0 0 0 0 1
Korea Sevens 0 0 0 0 10
Pool 19
Team P W D L Pts
England Sevens 0 0 0 0 19
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Fiji Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Canada Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Australia Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
France Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Japan Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
Argentina Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
United States Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Russia Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool D
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Kenya Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Portugal Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Team P W D L Pts
Wales Sevens
Zimbabwe 7s