In Sevens circles 'Johnny' Zhang Zhiqiang is already considered a legend, but China's best-known rugby ambassador has yet to fulfil his legacy - and that, he hopes, will be coaching the China sevens team at the 2016 Olympics.
The game on the mainland is about to receive a huge shot in the arm thanks to its readmittance to the Olympic movement, although in the abbreviated Sevens version.
International Olympic leaders last month selected rugby sevens and golf for proposed inclusion in the 2016 summer Games, and the full 106-member IOC assembly is expected to give its final approval at a meeting in Copenhagen next month.
Zhang has captained the China national team for the past 10 years, is the highest all-time individual points scorer at the Hong Kong Sevens, has trained alongside former England captain Martin Johnson during a stint at Leicester Tigers and has been a familiar face in Hong Kong club rugby for the past 11 years.
The 35-year-old from a Shandong martial arts family will play his last Hong Kong Sevens next March, retire after the Asian Games in Guangzhou next November and then attempt to leave behind an even greater legacy.
'I would like to help coach the team into the Olympics and give them the benefits of all I learnt playing overseas,' he says. 'Our greatest rivals in Asia are Japan and Korea. I believe that with good coaching, we can overpower them.'
As Zhang awaits next month's rubber stamp for rugby to reclaim its Olympic status - it featured in Paris 1900, London 1908, Antwerp 1920 and Paris 1924 - Zhang doesn't seem too perturbed his playing career will be long over.
'If rugby becomes a sport in the Olympics, sure, more money would be put behind it. The Chinese government puts more efforts in supporting and developing three games: the Olympic, the Asian Games and the National Games of China. If rugby enters the Olympics, support from the government will be much greater,' Zhang says.
In recent times, China's women's team have had overshadowed their male counterparts, having won the Asian women's Sevens champions and the Rugby World Cup bowl champions.
Zhang is quick to point out that China operates as one in the world of rugby. 'After a sport enters the Olympics, it is treated differently. In China, no matter whether male or female, there are lots of outstanding athletes.
'In comparison to Japan and Korea, we have a big advantage. If the government spikes up their support and further develops the sport, we could be ranked number one in Asia. If rugby goes to the Olympics, I predict much greater prosperity for the game in China.'
Financing teams to take part in tournaments abroad would no longer be an issue, along with back-up staff, medical care, scientific research - all the components necessary to compete with the world's best teams.
The Asian Rugby Football Union cites 4,210 registered people playing rugby on the mainland and, according to the International Rugby Board, the game is concentrated in five main centres: Beijing, Shandong, Shanghai, Dongbei and Guangzhou.
'I went through the Chinese Agricultural University in Beijing,' says Zhang. 'Around 80 per cent of the national team come from here.' The other heartland of mainland rugby is the PLA, particularly in the south.
While the 2016 Olympics are still a distant dream, the mainland is busy getting on with lifting its game - literally - by hosting the first Asian Sevens Series tournament in Shanghai this weekend.
The event at the Shanghai Football Club is one of the series of qualification events around Asia and Zhang is a star attraction. 'The environment for rugby fits with Shanghai,' he says. 'There are many social rugby clubs in this fast-growing city that have a lot of rugby culture. This tournament is a good showcase for Chinese rugby.'
The IRB is looking at the tournament from a macro view, says Jarrad Gallagher, the board's regional general manager, who is now based in Shanghai and trying to put a professional structure in place.
'Down the road, hopefully, we'll have rugby in the Olympics,' Gallagher said. 'Having Sevens in the Olympics will change things locally. It would mean access to more opportunities, greater funding, permission, recognition and greater facilities. Opportunities would arise for China that would never have otherwise.'
Gallagher believes not only China would reap the rewards.
'Places like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - countries in the former communist system where state support has been very poor over the past decades - will enjoy new support and new opportunities for competition.'
The IRB has 26 member nations in the Asian Rugby Football Union and a goal for ARFU and IRB is for every country to each have the opportunity to participate in an organised, Asian-sanctioned sevens tournament.
'One of the purposes of the Asian series is to provide a ranking system for Asia,' Gallagher says. 'The IRB is very keen to establish this, and an Asian series will be that platform.'
It will provide a pathway to the Hong Kong Sevens and IRB World Sevens Series.
'The key thing for us is we want to give everyone in Asia the opportunity to play,' Gallagher says.
Shanghai Rugby Club general manager Ashley Jones says this weekend's tournament is another 'bridge' in the building process across China.
'There are already bridges from Hong Kong to Guangzhou with the Sevens, the Asian Games and the growth of rugby in Southern China,' says Jones, who has played rugby for Hong Kong.
'The new Shanghai Sevens tournament is the chance to take the bridge further. It's easy to think of Hong Kong and China as separate rugby entities for local sevens purposes, but if sevens comes on the Olympic radar, these two teams could become one. I think people might be very surprised at how much weight the country then puts behind the game.'
Jones said he was expecting 3,000 fans - ' a big number for Shanghai' - to turn out over the weekend to watch 31 teams, comprising 10 international teams, 16 club sides (domestic and foreign), three veteran teams, two women's teams and five local international schools.
And when it becomes an Olympic sport next month, the Shanghai Sevens could soon be a major tournament on the international calendar as the IRB will be keen to give the mainland a leg of its World Series.
Former English and British Lions hooker Peter Wheeler, who took Zhang under his wing at Leicester after spotting him in Hong Kong, says rugby on the mainland already has a base from which to grow.
'We came to China in 2006 and undertook coaching with the national team and in schools. Rugby was further ahead than we expected, especially the coaching of the teams. A lot of work had already been done getting rugby up and established. The carrot of sevens in the Olympics would be great boost for the sport, and for China.'
'Johnny Zhang has been around for a long time now; he has a lot of experience to offer. He will bring to China much of what he learnt in his time with the Leicester Tigers.'
Zhang, a fullback or wing, has been a rock for China in the past decade. They won the bowl at the 2006 Hong Kong Sevens, a bronze medal at the 2007 Asian Games in Doha and finished third in the Asian qualifiers of this year's World Cup, missing out on a place in Dubai by one spot.
They languish in 49th place in the IRB rankings, just above Papua New Guinea, so there is lot of work for Zhang to do.
Shanghai Rugby Football Club president Clinton Dines, the former CEO of BHP Billiton in China, has seen rugby - and sevens - firsthand on the mainland from the early days, where the real rugby lovers laughed off choking dust storms blowing in from the Gobi and biting cold.
'There's a lot of rugby being played around China that no-one knows about, including some quite decent-sized regional tournaments - all run on a shoestring,' says Dines.
'The official stats are very low. I've been at regional tournaments with big numbers that don't reflect the official figures. A lot of people don't pay club dues, so they're not officially registered and recognised.
'There's a real rugby culture here among the local players. It creates that common understanding and bonhomie that is the hallmark of rugby all over the world.
'There are a good handful of such characters around who have poured big chunks of their lives into rugby in China, simply for love of the game,' Dines says.
'Johnny Zhang is a legend - worthy of what is said about him. He's good player and a nice bloke.'
Go Johnny go
1 Zhang has been the cornerstone of China's national rugby team for the past 10 years.
2 He learned his rugby at the Chinese Agricultural University, where about 80 per cent of the Chinese national team members come from.
3 As captain, he led China to the bowl title at the 2006 Hong Kong Sevens, a bronze medal at the 2007 Asian Games in Doha and finished third in the Asian qualifiers of this year's World Cup.
4 A skilful player both at fullback or wing, Zhang is the highest all-time individual points scorer at the Hong Kong Sevens.
5 The 35-year-old will play his last Hong Kong Sevens next March and retire after the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.