TIM VISSER has dismissed suggestions by one of rugby’s all-time great threequarters that he could best serve Scotland at centre rather than wing.
As he prepares to make a 21st Heineken European Cup start for Edinburgh Rugby away to Saracens tomorrow, the Scottish-qualified Dutchman responded to remarks by Jerry Guscott who, in a question and answer session this week, said: “I’d be tempted to put Tim Visser in at 13 and get Max Evans back on the wing.”
When asked about the comments from ex-England player Guscott, Visser said: “I saw that. It would probably get me more ball but, technically, I am not all there to be a centre, to be honest.
“I’d probably be a good ball carrier but I don’t think I have enough knowledge of the position to play there in the top flight. You do see some wingers, when they lose a bit of pace, move in to centre.
“At the moment I’d like to showcase my pace on the wing.
“Centre is a massively competitive position.
“Internationally, so much knowledge goes into it and I probably need a bit shaving off before I go there.”
Nevertheless, Visser can be highly effective at popping up on his stand-off’s shoulder and threatening down the middle of the pitch so his directness is not exactly neglected, with versatility a key weapon.
“I do tend to score my tries all over the pitch so there is a wee bit of diversity there,” admitted Visser, who has six for the tournament and 11 in the league this season.
Edinburgh will need all the tricks they can muster to contain a Saracens side aiming for a win that would see them top the group, and Visser says that it can be to the visitors’ advantage that they have nothing to lose. “It’s very easy for us now,” he said. “We’re not under any pressure and just want to go out there and do the best we can.
“We have a point to prove from not doing well in this tournament and it is up to us to put a performance together and show what we can do.”
According to Visser, there was encouragement to be taken from the way Edinburgh competed despite going down to Munster last week, with a late rally conjuring up two tries by Dougie Fife.
“Even though we obviously had another loss, we took a step forward as a team.
“The fact we have kept so close to that team (Netani Talei for Dave Denton is the only change) now shows that (coach) Michael Bradley is putting a bit of trust in us.”
One change easily represents the closest Edinburgh have come all season to a settled side and Visser adds: “It means we can grow as a team as well.
“The unsettlement we have had has meant new people coming in which can make things different.
“Against Munster even though it was a loss we were very physical around the pitch and we outplayed Munster at the breakdown every now and again, which is no mean feat because that is something they pride themselves on.
“We were also good defensively apart from the penalty try conceded and the snipe from their No. 9 (Conor Murray) which was the one defensive lapse.
“But I think we are really moving on and going to Saracens with a similar team means we can build.” If those were the positives, Visser is more guarded about last week’s late flourish.
He said: “They were pushing for another try and forcing the game so making mistakes. We were simply benefitting from that. It sometimes seems a lot different to people off the pitch because now we are being told we should have been playing like that from the start but it wasn’t necessarily up to us, even if we showed improvements.”
Visser was unequivocal in his praise of fellow winger Fife, scorer of a try brace.
“Dougie deserved it and reminds me of myself a couple of years ago – a raw talent,” he said. “He now has the game and knowledge to perform well at this level.
“He has always done well for Edinburgh and has actually scored a few. He is becoming a bit of a threat. It’s brilliant to have someone on the other wing who is a genuine try-scorer as well. Dougie is a brilliant athlete and he is one to watch for the future.”
Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley is also wary of moving Visser infield.
He said: “Tim would probably need to improve his defence but is doing very well on the wing. We’ll let him concentrate on that. Jeremy Guscott would know outside centre and have the ability to pick one but it is not something that has jumped out at us.”