Scotland find their finisher in Visser
Monday 12 November 2012
Three games into his international career, Tim Visser is the joint-third top try scorer in the current Scotland squad. The country's quest for a victory against New Zealand continues but in the midst of the 51-22 loss to the world champions on Sunday there were tangible signs that the long-time search for a potent finisher is finally meeting with success.
Having bagged a brace of tries on his debut in Fiji in June, won his second cap in Samoa the following week, and twice crossed the All Black whitewash on Sunday, Visser has four tries in three games as a fully fledged international wing for Scotland. It could have been different, though.
When the English RFU announced their playing rosters for the 2006-07 season, in Andy Robinson's time as head coach south of the border, Visser was one of the 20 names in the England intermediate national academy squad run by Conor O'Shea and Jim Mallinder – alongside Danny Care, Daniel Cipriani and Tom Youngs. He even played for England against Scotland – a 48-13 victory in an under-18s international at Ebbw Vale in 2005.
"I played for England schools as a flanker," the 25-year-old recalled. "I actually got signed by Newcastle as a flanker. I played second row for England for a little bit as well. Jordan Turner-Hall was in the same team, and Joe Simpson." Visser, of course, is neither a Scot nor an Englishman by birth, but a Dutchman. His father, Marc, won 67 caps for the Netherlands and Tim was preparing to study economics at the Johan Cruyff Institute in Amsterdam when two Newcastle players, Joe Shaw and James Grindal, spotted him playing in the Amsterdam Sevens.
He joined Newcastle's academy and completed his education at Barnard Castle school, the County Durham institution that produced Rob Andrew, the Underwood brothers and Mathew Tait – hence his qualification to represent England at age-group level. It has been through the Scottish system, however, that Visser has graduated to the senior international stage.
It was Robinson who signed him for Edinburgh in 2009 and after three years in the Caledonian capital, he qualified for Scotland on residency grounds in June. "To score against the world champions is great," he said, reflecting on Sunday's brace, "but for anyone to put 50 points past us is disappointing. That's something we have to address going into the game against South Africa on Saturday."
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