Tim Visser, Edinburgh’s flying Dutch winger, has reasserted his desire to play Test rugby for his adopted country, the past week having offered a reminder as to why he has become the hottest finishing talent in the Scottish game.
The winger, who finished last season as the leading try scorer in the Magners League with 10 tries in 17 appearances, ran in another two in the 49-21 defeat at The Rec on Saturday, albeit Edinburgh’s defensive frailties were again badly exposed last weekend.
Two days later, he picked up the Magners League Young Player of the Year prize at the tournament’s inaugural awards ceremony and, as Glasgow Warriors officials have effectively confirmed that Thom Evans has been forced to retire from the sport, Visser is peerless in Scotland when it comes to finishing power.
It presents both opportunity and frustration to the national team management since Visser only began the process of gaining residential qualification for Scotland a year ago, having opted against tying himself to his native Netherlands.
What is clear, though, is that, while he has qualified on residency grounds to play for England prior to his arrival at Edinburgh, playing for Scotland is now the only route to the pinnacle of the game for the former Newcastle Falcon. “I [became] qualified for England the day I moved up here but was no longer qualified for them as soon as I made that move,” he explained.
The only Englishman he needs to impress, then, is Andy Robinson, and Scotland’s head coach is paying close attention. “I’ve spoken to Andy a couple of times and he’s very interested,”said Visser. “I would never [choose] not [to] play for Scotland if I got the chance, but there is no point thinking about that at the moment because I don’t qualify for another two years.”
Meantime, then, Edinburgh will have the benefit of his full focus and, as one of the relative few in professional rugby who had more time off than they wanted over the summer, he is being tipped by Andy Boyd, Edinburgh’s conditioning coach, to have another great season.
The player remains understandably cautious. “Teams know what I can bring now so I don’t think it is going to be any easier this season,” he said, “but I now know how the other players play and what they expect me to do. I need to up things from last season.”
While Edinburgh supporters would accept that more of the same would be quite sufficient from the man who was the spear-head of the most effective attacking force in the league last season – Edinburgh rattled in 40 tries in all – Visser knows that the defensive side of his game has to improve dramatically.
“I’ve been looking at attacking opportunities off No.9 because both our scrum-halves are very good runners, but I’ve also been working on defence a lot,” he said of his personal close season programme. “We have been scoring a lot of tries, but have also been giving too many away and the Bath game was a reminder of that.
“To be fair we were going down there for our first game, while they had already played a couple of warm-up matches, and most of our defensive errors weren’t so much strategic as down to individual errors which were more to do with match fitness. You can’t get that match fitness right away, although our defence needs to improve hugely this weekend.I’ve been responsible for a couple of the soft tries we’ve given away and we know that people just need to make the tackles.”
Edinburgh meet London Irish at Murrayfield tomorrow evening, kick off 7.30.