Tim VISSER insisted today that, had his rugby career been restricted to just one match, Sunday’s EMC Autumn Test against the All Blacks would have been his first choice.
The 25-year-old Dutch-born winger qualified for Scotland on residency over the summer and on returning from the South Seas tour, where he made his debut, told the Evening News how much he was looking forward to running out at Murrayfield in a dark blue jersey.
Now that moment is close at hand and for Visser, they don’t come any bigger than a clash with the reigning world champions, whom Scotland will attempt to defeat for the first time in 29 meetings.
“Being able to say you have played against the All Blacks is brilliant. It’s this one I’d pick above any other. South Africa would be next but we need to play against the best teams in the world,” said the winger, who also expressed delight he’d be lining up immediately outside a centre combination from Edinburgh.
“Being able to play alongside Nick (De Luca) and Matt (Scott) really worked on the summer tour. It’s a relationship we can build on,” said Visser.
Altogether there are seven Capital players in coach Andy Robinson’s starting line-up, plus Mike Blair, who left for Brive last season but is linking up again with stand-off Greig Laidlaw.
According to Visser, the pair’s proven ability to take over each other’s roles at key moments can help Scotland.
“Mike and Greig (Laidlaw) have played very well together in the past and have been able to interchange. They really understand each other’s play, which helps.
“In a pressure situation that it will be, it is good that I’ll be around so many players I am used to playing with. It must help.”
Against a team which has prevented Scotland from scoring a try in each of the last three meetings, all at Murrayfield, that familiarity will be important, says Visser, who has topped the RaboDirect PRO12 individual try-scoring charts in each of the past three seasons.
He plays down that statistic, however, saying: “I’m not the saviour. I can’t just score tries from anything. I live off what other people do and it all comes from a very complete team. It will depend on that.
“I’m happy going into this game where I am and, as for expectation, you have to take that as a professional rugby player.
“Key will be keeping a clear head and believing in your own ability and not getting dragged into the hype.
“It would be easy to get dragged into hype because of the type of game it is and the way the All Blacks have been performing recently, but that can’t be allowed to happen.
“What I have been doing for the last couple of years has been working, otherwise I would not be here. It is about trying to continue that on the international stage.
“Expectation is something I wouldn’t say I enjoy, but I’m content with it. It comes with the track record. It would be silly for me to say it shouldn’t be there. I just have to take it as it is. It’s kind of obvious because of what has been happening in the past.
“I don’t feel any extra pressure, though, because the pressure of playing the All Blacks is there anyway. They are one of the best teams in the world. The pressure is on the whole team and that is the good thing about team sport – you can share.”
Visser maintains it helps that his long-awaited debut occurred overseas in Fiji this summer.
“It has been easier to slip under the radar on the summer tour, a lot easier than in front of a sell-out crowd at Murrayfield.
“At the same time, these sort of games get you going as well and I always like to perform in the bigger games. Hopefully what happened abroad has helped prepare me for Sunday.
“In terms of physicality, it will be the same as the tour as they have big wings and centres like Fiji and Samoa.
“So far as skill is concerned, it will be a different level. Teams like Samoa don’t compare to New Zealand in terms of skill.
“I never expect to win – you have to respect the opposition – but I always think we are going to win.”
Visser is preparing himself to go head-to-head with a member of New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup winning team.
“I expect to mark Cory Jane, who has been great under high ball and does the basics very well,” he said.
“He is a good defender (but) not as heavy as me and that is something I have to exploit,” claimed Visser.