Thomas, Imhoff on collision course

Date published: November 19 2014

France wing Teddy Thomas is relishing the prospect of taking on Argentina’s Juan Imhoff in Saturday’s Test in Paris.

France wing Teddy Thomas is relishing the prospect of taking on Argentina’s Juan Imhoff in Saturday’s Test in Paris.

Although the two wings are team-mates at Racing Metro in the Top 14, they will go head-to-head at the Stade de France on Saturday.

Left wing Thomas is wary of Imhoff, who has scored 13 tries in 25 caps for the Pumas.

“He’s an unpredictable player with crazy talent, whether with his feet or his hands,” said the flyer.

“We never know what he’s going to do, he never does the same thing twice and he knows how to do practically everything.”

But Imhoff is equally determined to stop his club-mate from adding to his four international tries in just two appearances since marking his debut 10 days ago with a hat-trick against Fiji.

And while the 26-year-old Argentine backs himself to come out trumps, he claims Thomas is by far the more naturally gifted of the pair.

Imhoff said the 21-year-old has “everything” to become an “icon of French rugby”.

“I like his spirit because like me he’s a ball-player who loves rugby,” said Imhoff.

“But we’re different: he has talent and a great physique, even though he’s young.

“He has natural qualities whereas me, in Argentina I was too skinny. I had to put in a lot of physical work to get up to the level.

“For his age, he’s huge, powerful and fast.”

Although they are team-mates in Paris, they don’t know each other particularly well and have only lined up in Racing’s colours together twice.

Thomas was only brought to the club from Biarritz in the summer while Imhoff missed the start of the European season as he was on international duty with Argentina in the Rugby Championship.

They first played together in 26-10 European Champions Cup victory at Treviso on October 26 before playing their second match on opposite wings a week later in the shock 21-17 home defeat to then-rock bottom Oyonnax in the league.

“We haven’t seen a lot of each other but the little we have we’ve noticed many common traits,” added Thomas.

“He’s someone I really enjoy training with. I take to the letter every piece of advice he gives me.”

Imhoff added: “At first we were a bit shy with each other but once we got onto the pitch we opened up.”

They will be expecting to see a lot more of each other at close quarters on Saturday, where the only opening up they’ll be hoping to do is in terms of a gap as they charge towards their opponents’ tryline.