SCOTLAND wing Tim Visser has a hunger for tries every bit as insatiable as any top football striker has for goals.
Earlier this year Steven Fletcher became the first man to score a hat-trick for the Scotland football team since Colin Stein in 1969 when he put three past Gibraltar. Trebles for the national rugby team are not quite as rare but they’re hardly ten a penny and Visser was agonisingly close to joining a fairly exclusive club.
The Harlequins wing was up in support of Mark Bennett as he ran in the third of three second-half interception tries in Saturday’s 48-7 hammering of Italy at BT Murrayfield. In the 80th minute of his comeback from a shoulder injury, it would have been no surprise if Bennett had sought a relieving pass as the line beckoned, but he had the strength to make it.
The last player to score a hat-trick for Scotland was, surprisingly, forward Allister Hogg, who achieved the feat against Romania in the 2007 World Cup. Visser would have loved to add his name to a list that also includes John Jeffrey, Iwan Tukalo and Gavin Hastings, but said he couldn’t begrudge Bennett putting the perfect gloss on a dream comeback.
“I wanted the hat-trick definitely,” admitted the flying former Dutchman, who was happy to settle for a double. “I have never had one for Scotland and I thought Mark was going to get caught on the end but good on him for making it. It put a big smile on my face.”
Visser said looking for interceptions was part of the Scotland gameplan and added: “We like to put pressure on the opposition and pick off interceptions as wingers. That is not always possible. It all depends on how many people we get round the corner, how many people we have in the defensive line but it somehow allows me to go hunting for that interception.”
Like the rest of the squad, Visser can only wait until coach Vern Cotter reveals to the players later today whether they will be going to the World Cup as part of the 31-man list, with the public announcement tomorrow.
Playing in a World Cup would be a dream come true for the Zeewolde-born 28-year-old who was given his chance by Edinburgh five years ago
He said: “No ex-Dutchman has ever gone to the World Cup so it would be great. Playing for Scotland is a massive honour but going to a World Cup is another step above and one I am determined to make. From now on it is out of our hands.
“I felt I had a good game against Ireland and I have put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes to get my speed and power back.
“That is something I lost since my leg injury. It has been coming back in batches but it has taken a lot of hard work to get back to where I was.
“It is something that I realised in time, that extra bit of pace and power allows me to play a lot more freely. That is something I took for granted in those years with Edinburgh, especially early on. I was getting round defenders relatively easily and that is something that is coming back to me now.
“All the hard work has allowed me to get there. I felt it was really coming to fruition against Ireland and that put me personally under a little bit less pressure going into this game because I felt I had that power back and I could use that to my benefit.”
Visser was joined on two tries by fellow winger Sean Lamont and he was full of praise for his 34-year-old team-mate. He said: “It shows what a character he is and how he looks after his body. He is one of the strongest in the team and is the perfect pro. That is maybe why he is still around now.
“If I make it to that age I would be delighted. I don’t think I will but it shows all the hard work he puts in behind the scenes to get there at that age.”