Rugby: Edinburgh ready to rock the Ospreys

TIM VISSER insists Edinburgh Rugby are refusing to give up on a place in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 League play-offs with tonight’s home encounter against Ospreys a chance to kick-start a late charge into the top four.

And top try-scorer Visser further believes that recent history can repeat itself with games in the international period creating opportunities for new stars to emerge.

“There could be a bit of déjà vu around,” says the Dutch-born winger who will qualify to play for Scotland this summer.

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He added: “When the World Cup was on, Dave Denton and Stuart McInally took their chances and maybe the next few weeks – we have three away games after this which will go a long way to shaping our final position in the table – will see others push themselves forward and get spotted.

“There’s a lot of unseen talent in the squad.

“We have some great world-class players at Edinburgh but there are some players hidden behind them who just need an opportunity to show what they can do.

“We’ve had a couple of weeks without a game after coming through a hard Heineken European Cup pool and can start to push on with some unfinished business against the Ospreys.

“When we went down there earlier in the season, we lost (19-26) in the final play of the game.

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“We still feel bad about that and it’s going around our heads at the moment.

“That is another thing to motivate us.”

In fact, Edinburgh have still to beat Welsh opposition in the league this season, although each of the last five encounters with Ospreys have gone with home advantage.

Visser says there are plenty of reasons not to let a guard drop – starting with the league’s top points scorer.

While Visser finished top of the try charts in 2010-11 Dan Biggar posted an unsurpassed 248 points.

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“Biggar has been at or near the top of the league scorers for the past few years and is extremely talented with the boot,” said Visser in sounding a warning.

During the break in league activity, Edinburgh visited the Ratho Climbing Centre and Visser says these training activities have been important in terms of keeping the players fresh.

“It does feel like a long time since we played as a team [January 22] and with players away on national and Scotland A duty you do feel a bit left behind so a change of scenery helps.

“The climbing centre was a place I had never been and is literally an old quarry, a huge place with a glass roof.

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“They have an aerial assault course and most of the boys enjoyed the place – my brother, Sep and I did some abseiling – but some were scared of heights.”

Challenged to name names Visser said with a grin: “Jim Thompson looked rather scared and Netani [Talei] is someone we couldn’t get out of the cafe ...

“Netani’s excuse was that there were no high buildings in [his native] Fiji.”

Now the time has come to start climbing the table with 16 points separating ninth-placed Edinburgh from the top four and eight games remaining including those three on the road against Dragons, Connacht and Ulster starting next week.

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In looking to close that gap, coach Michael Bradley gives a first start to hooker Alun Walker and includes more than half the team that started the victory over London Irish last time out which booked a Heineken European Cup quarter-final at home to Toulouse on April 7.

On the bench against current league runners-up Ospreys is prop Robin Hislop who, at 19 years old, is the youngest player registered by Edinburgh for Europe and who will be aiming to help achieve a win to celebrate signing a three-year contract after which he said: “I’m delighted to get the opportunity to keep playing pro rugby at Edinburgh.”

Hislop, who also plays with Boroughmuir and who captained Scotland Under-20s last week, has already figured in a win over champions Munster and could be the type of “hidden talent” flagged up by Visser.