Tim VISSER has revealed he will be looking for a third straight success at Twickenham when he makes an RBS Six Nations bow with Scotland against England on Saturday.
The Dutch-born winger, who qualified for Scotland on residency after joining Edinburgh three years ago, was attached to Newcastle Falcons when he went to London and picked up a winner’s medal in the 2007 Middlesex Sevens tournament.
For an encore, Visser was then part of a Barbarians side which defeated England 38-32 in May, 2011, scoring two vital tries. Without doubt, though, any success for Scotland would top the lot – as Visser immediately makes clear.
“We are going there with optimism but statistically we are underdogs,” says the Rabo Direct Pro 12 League’s consistent top try scorer.
On those previous successes at the home of English rugby, he says: “In terms of stats, Twickenham has been good to me because I am two from two on my visits. Sevens is a totally different concept, of course, but I enjoyed winning at Twickenham in the company of mainly young Newcastle academy players and Scott Riddell, who went on to captain the Scotland sevens team.
“When the Barbarians won, Scott Johnson was our coach but there wasn’t a lot of coaching to be done on that occasion.
“It was mainly a matter of turning up and playing.”
Nevertheless, Visser has more insight than most into the workings of Scotland’s new, Australian-born interim coach.
“Scott has a great outlook,” said Visser. “He is slightly more serious behind the scenes than when talking to the media but not much!
“Scott brings a light touch to serious issues, which is good. But when he wants to get a point across he makes sure we know what he means.”
Having come into the side after the opening leg of the summer tour, Visser has been an ever-present for five consecutive games, scoring a try brace against Fiji on his debut and also against New Zealand at Murrayfield.
The Six Nations experience will be special, he maintains.
“The tradition of this tournament stretched to Holland when I lived there as a small boy.
“I have grown up with the tournament watching it on television with my Dad (ex-Holland captain, Marc Visser). To be part of the tournament’s history is fantastic, a great feeling, and I look forward to being part of a back three unit in which we complement each other very well.
“Sean Maitland has come in on the opposite wing from me and he is also very chilled out.
“On the other hand our full back, Stuart Hogg, is more energetic and upbeat most of the time. What we have in common is that we are all very attack-minded, and different personalities can sometimes gel very well.”
If Visser fits easily into the back-line, a striking feature of coach Johnson’s first selection is the absence of Edinburgh players, perhaps understandably given their wretched fortunes this season.
Only scrum half Greig Laidlaw and centre Matt Scott from Edinburgh make the starting team alongside Visser, who says: “With the way Edinburgh have been playing we are slightly thin in the national squad but the Glasgow guys have been playing well and have brought some optimism we can live off.”
Few teams in world rugby are on a bigger high just now that England and for obvious reasons, according to Visser. “When we were rounding off the autumn series by losing to Tonga, the English were putting one over on New Zealand,” he said. “I was impressed by England against New Zealand but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a good team. They lost other games in the Autumn but they won at the end which is something we didn’t do.
“The Autumn was a one-off from them even if they are obviously making steps in the right way but we will be looking to counter that.”
And one of the means at coach Johnson’s disposal will be an intriguing combination in the form of Zeeland, represented by Visser, and New Zealand in the form of Maitland, who is the only uncapped player in the starting line-up which shows seven changes (one positional) from that which plumbed the depths against Tonga.
Among those Johnson will be pinning hopes on will be Sean Lamont who, according to statistics just released, was one of two Scots at the top of the rankings for ball carrying in the 2012 Six Nations.
Dave Denton, one of the substitutes this weekend, managed 67 throughout for a total gain of 219 metres and Lamont was the only other player to make over 60 carries. Meanwhile, Scotland lock Richie Gray made more tackles without missing one than anybody else. Gray completed all 43 attempts and only nine players across the tournament completed more but all missed at least one tackle.