EDINBURGH’S record tryscorer Tim Visser is determined to leave some silverware behind as a parting gift for a club to which he owes so much.
The flying Dutch-born winger is heading to Harlequins in the summer to start a fresh challenge at Twickenham Stoop – coincidentally the venue for tonight’s European Challenge Cup final against Gloucester.
That will be good in terms of leaving a legacy, to leave some silverware – that’s really important to me.Tim Visser
After five years in the Scottish capital which have seen him become one of the most lethal finishers in Europe and blossom into a Test player, Visser is bursting to give something back to the club and its supporters before he heads for the exit door.
Tonight shouldn’t be his last game for Edinburgh as there is still league business to attend to but, as an occasion, it has the feeling of a farewell match.
“It would be nice to leave with a trophy,” said Visser. “I don’t think I’ll be too emotional because it’s not my last game – I’ll have a few more in the league.
“But it will be my last European game for Edinburgh and it’s obvious that I’m eternally grateful for what they’ve done for me.
“The belief they had in me when I came here as a youngster, the opportunities it has given me, becoming top tryscorer all those times and getting into the Pro12 dream team, getting the chance to play for Scotland, even though that wasn’t my intention when I came here. That was amazing.
“I’ve got some fantastic memories. The calibre of players I’ve played with, going back to Chris Paterson, Nick de Luca, the Edinburgh legends of the past – to say I have played with them is brilliant. It’ll be a tough last game for me when it comes. But I don’t think it’ll be this game.
“Of course, I want to win this final. Getting there isn’t enough for me. I want to win it.
“That will be good in terms of leaving a legacy, to leave some silverware – that’s really important to me.”
Visser was part of the Edinburgh team which reached the Heineken Cup semi-final in 2012 but, even though tonight’s showpiece is in Europe’s second-tier competition, he believes winning tonight would top that.
“This ranks very highly in my career,” he added. “At the moment, it’s up there with the Heineken Cup semi-final a few years ago. If we win it, then it’ll be one of the top highlights of my career. I’ve not won much over the years, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Hailing from the Netherlands means Visser has, perhaps, more of a grasp of the Association code than the South Africans and antipodeans that populate the Edinburgh dressing room. The man from Zeewolde sees no reason why an Edinburgh victory tonight shouldn’t rank alongside the select group of Scottish football’s European triumphs.
“I would say us winning would stand alongside those achievements,” insisted Visser. “For the sport, it is just as big as those moments. For us, this is one of the pinnacles of anyone’s career to get to a European final.
“I think the quality of teams who you mingle with in this Challenge Cup is outstanding.
“When we beat Bordeaux away, they were second in the league in France. London Irish have struggled in recent times but to beat Lyon and London Irish, they were mid-table [in the English Premiership] at that time, these are the games that instill confidence in a team, the wins that make us believe we can win.”
At the start of the season, few would have predicted Edinburgh would make a European final and Visser concedes that he is as surprised as anyone.
“After the Heineken semi, I probably didn’t expect us to be at this stage again so soon,” he admitted. “We’ve been through some tough times with Edinburgh in the last couple of seasons, so I don’t think anyone would have predicted us getting to this final. But a lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes – and we deserve to be here. Some of our performances in the Challenge Cup have been outstanding.”
Meanwhile, Gloucester’s Welsh international stand-off James Hook will put thoughts of a potential World Cup recall to one side and focus on helping his club in their quest for European silverware. That prospect is in stark contrast to his emotions 12 months ago with French club Perpignan.
It is almost a year to the day since Perpignan were relegated from the Top 14 – the first time in their 103-year history they had suffered such an ignominy – and Hook was to sign for Gloucester just a month later.
“It was difficult then for Perpignan, and it is nice to be here with the chance to win something,” he said. “It is a chance to go from relegation to a European final. It was disappointing how it ended in France, but this is a new challenge. I am improving game on game.
“Maybe I am a bit wiser now, and the more games I get at 10, the better I will become. David Humphreys [Gloucester rugby director] has given me that opportunity at fly-half, even when it was not going so well at the beginning of the season. He has stuck with me.”
15 G Tonks
14 D Fife
13 S Beard
12 A Strauss
11 T Visser
10 P Burleigh
9 S Hidalgo-Clyne
1 A Dickinson
2 R Ford
3 WP Nel
4 A Bresler
5 B Toolis
6 M Coman (c)
7 R Grant
8 C Du Preez
16 S McInally
17 R Sutherland
18 J Andress
19 F McKenzie
20 H Watson
21 N Fowles
22 T Heathcote
23 T Brown
15 C Sharples
14 J May
13 B Meakes
12 B Twelvetrees (c)
11 H Purdy
10 J Hook
9 G Laidlaw
1 N Wood
2 R Hibbard
3 J Afoa
4 T Savage
5 T Palmer
6 R Moriarty
7 M Kvesic
8 G Evans
16 D Dawidiuk
17 Y Thomas
18 S Puafisi
19 M Galarza
20 J Rowan
21 D Robson
22 B Burns
23 S McColl