Rugby World Cup 2015

Imhoff wants a repeat of Pumas' 2007 semi-final feat

CARDIFF • Argentina's star wing Juan Imhoff hopes that the Pumas can replicate their performance at the 2007 World Cup when they reached the semi-finals.

They take on Ireland in a quarter-final this weekend.

A standout performer needing just one touchdown to become the Pumas' leading World Cup try-scorer, Imhoff, 27, faces being shut out of the national team after the World Cup if he stays with his French club, Racing 92.

The Argentina Rugby Union has warned that any player, who is not a member of the Buenos Aires team that enters the Southern Hemisphere's Super Rugby championship in 2016, will not be considered for Los Pumas.

But Imhoff's focus for now lies in taking on Ireland on Sunday and seeing whether former Racing team-mate and star fly-half Jonny Sexton features.

It was watching those matches in the 2007 edition - including a 30-15 win over Ireland which saw Argentina advance into the quarter-finals - that convinced a then 19-year-old Imhoff to take the plunge into rugby.

Now, he is a leader in a team who have beaten Australia and South Africa in the past 12 months, building on the attacking style promoted by coach Daniel Hourcade.

"Ireland are not stupid, they know that attack is our greatest strength," Imhoff said at his side's Cardiff base.

"If we can launch some good attacks, maybe we can make them have doubts."

He has been closely watching Sexton's bid to overcome an adductor strain suffered in the 24-9 win against France last Sunday.

He wants Sexton to play.

"He relies a lot on his physical condition," Imhoff said.

"He needs to feel that everything is perfect.

"But he will want to play even if he is only 60 per cent. We can take advantage of this.

"I want to beat Jonny Sexton.

"I would like to beat him because of my respect for him and to grow as a player."

Ireland will give Sexton until Friday to prove his fitness.

"Jonathan Sexton has run more than 3km so that is a positive," said Ireland assistant coach Greg Feek.

"We are quietly confident and will see how he goes on Friday."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2015, with the headline 'Imhoff wants a repeat of Pumas' 2007 semi-final feat'. Print Edition | Subscribe