Edinburgh Rugby’s Tim Visser should have mainly happy memories of Connacht’s Sportsground Stadium in Galway, venue for tonight’s Guinness Pro 12 encounter, having scored in three of his four visits.
But the 15-times capped Scotland winger will take the field wary of various pitfalls and even goes as far as to refer to the ground as a “horrendous place.” Says Visser: “It’s always windy, muddy – it’s terrible. You have to run over a dog track to get to the pitch. It is a horrendous place.”
When it comes to the Connacht team though, Visser, whose two tries in the win over Glasgow last time out took him to 56 and just two behind Ulster’s Tommy Bowe in the league’s all-time scoring list, oozes respect. “Connacht were one of the poorer provinces in Ireland but they are now competing with the best,” he says of a team unbeaten at home in all matches this season. “It’s going to be tough, we can take momentum from the win over Glasgow but because of our inconsistency in the past we have to take it week by week.”
That try brace against Glasgow doubled Visser’s league tally for the season and has given him the scent of a starting place in the upcoming Six Nations Championship. He is returning to form following a double leg fracture.
“Glasgow (seven tries from the last seven meetings) is a good fixture for me especially as it counts so much towards the Six Nations. I didn’t get much of a chance in the Autumn.
“It’ll take the Glasgow game as (being) my chance to shine.”
If Connacht play to form the match will open out allowing Visser extra opportunities.
“Connacht are a good team to play. They don’t put too much pressure on your defence and allow you to play a bit. Hopefully we can build on what we have just shown.”
Edinburgh will be aware, though, that in spite of Visser’s try feats they have lost in Galway three times in four seasons as well as going down at home to Connacht this season.
Edinburgh second row Ben Toolis and flanker Hamish Watson, boosted by one and two year contract extensions, respectively, will start tonight.
For Toolis it will be a ninth successive start since coming off the bench against Lyon and with his immediate future settled he is setting goals even higher. “My target is to keep playing well and more game time with Edinburgh is all I can really ask for. Obviously (playing for the) national side would be great. All I want to do is make sure I am getting better,” says the player who was reared in Australia but is eligible for Scotland through mum, Linda, who is due to attend tonight’s game in Galway where Toolis also has family.
“My grandad was from that part of Ireland and all my dad’s cousins are Irish. The heritage is quite strong. It’s a big game because we have to show the win against Glasgow was not a fluke.”
Toolis has taken a circuitous route to becoming almost an overnight sensation having turned out regularly for Heriot’s earlier this season. Last term he had a two-game loan spell at London Irish where he faced Northampton and Newcastle in the LV Cup.
“I wouldn’t have played as well for Edinburgh without those outings with Heriot’s and if you are not getting games you will not be picked (by Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons).
“The outings for London Irish were my first pro games and I was really privileged and happy when their coach, Brian Smith, called me.
“I couldn’t really believe I was going down there but the week after I returned I came off the bench against Ulster and that was me up and running for Edinburgh.”
In fact, the two starts and three substitute appearances Toolis made last year failed to yield a win as Edinburgh made a stuttering end to the campaign. The duck was finally broken against Lyon in October and since then he has shared in a further six victories.
Plenty to shout about but despite being signed up to social media site Twitter the player, whose twin, Alex, is also at Edinburgh, has failed to record a single tweet.
“I’m not sure how to use that Twitter site. It’s not too big in Australia,” grins a prospect who is doing his talking mostly on the pitch – and perhaps shouting loudly enough for Scotland coach Vern Cotter to hear.