The future is looking particularly bright for Tim Visser of Edinburgh Rugby. In the short-term, his team will compete in a Heineken Cup semi-final for the first time ever after their dramatic win over Toulouse on Saturday.
In the long-term, he’s likely to be reunited with coach Andy Robinson and pulling on a Scotland jersey after he qualifies to play for his adopted country this summer.
Moreover, we are delighted to announce that Tim will be writing a regular column for The Rugby Blog, so that we can track his progress and gain exclusive insight into his life as a professional player.
Visser arrived in the UK from the Netherlands aged 17, attending Barnard Castle school and joining the Newcastle Falcons academy. He played regularly for the Falcons’ development team and enjoyed invitational sevens for the Kooga Wailers before making his senior Falcons debut aged 19.
Given what we know now, the fact that he scored three tries in his first three games isn’t hugely surprising, but despite such a fast start, he was offered limited game time for the rest of the season. When the club’s management changed, Visser found that he wasn’t getting enough support to help him develop and improve as a player, and it was time to move on.
“Andy Robinson was at Edinburgh at the time, and he got in touch and said ‘We need a finisher’. I didn’t really think of myself as a finisher, but I went up to have a look around and really liked the facilities, the stadium and everything.”
“I met Rob Moffatt who was the backs coach then and we got on well. He spends a lot of time with the players and really brings them on, and that’s what I needed.”
Visser joined Edinburgh for the 2009/10 season and immediately made an impact – or as he modestly puts it, ‘I took my chances early on’. Taking those chances led to him finishing the season as the top scorer in the Magners League for two years running, and winning the Young Player of the Season Award in his first year.
“Andy said at the start that he was a possible contender for the Scotland job and he might not be around, but we didn’t talk about Scotland eligibility then. As soon as I started playing well, the rumours started about Scotland, but it felt so far away so I didn’t think about it.”
This year though, playing for Scotland is very much on the radar, and he’ll be eligible for selection in June 2012 after three years living in the country.
“Last year, Andy (Robinson) said, ‘you could be a Scotland player if you carry on like this’ and he’s said that if I’m fit I’ll be considered for selection for the summer tour in June.”
“I love living in Scotland. My fiancee works here as well and we feel part of everything going on here. I’ve always just concentrated on Edinburgh, but I’m starting to think about Scotland now as it could be an option.”
“It would be a real honour to play for Scotland, so I’ll just perform as well as I can for Edinburgh and hope that’s enough to get me selected.”
Concentrating on Edinburgh has served him well, and playing on one of the biggest club rugby stages against Ulster for a place in the Heineken Cup final is likely to see his star rise even further.
“It was incredible on Saturday. We knew that our teamwork would be important, and it was really good game management from Greig Laidlaw to see us through.”
“It’s the most important thing we’ve achieved as a club, certainly in my time, and for a lot of the older guys as well. For a city like Edinburgh, it’s just brilliant.”
Barring injury, a place in Scotland’s squad for their tour of Australia and the Pacific Islands in June looks increasingly likely, and Visser is planning around it just in case he is selected. It’s no coincidence that his wedding is booked for early July just after the tour.
Tim Visser will be writing a regular column for The Rugby Blog over the next few months, and we’ll be following his club and international career closely.