Expectation builds as Tim Visser gears up for long-awaited Scotland bow
HIS first match as Scotland coach was against Fiji and his second cap as an England flanker took place in the capital of Suva so it’s fair to say Andy Robinson both knows and understands Fijian rugby.
He recognises that they have individuals with the speed, power and priceless ability to beat a man but they are not the only ones.
The English coach has named a Dutch winger in the Scotland starting XV – welcome to modern rugby. . .
Tim Visser has been the coming thing for about as long as Halleys Comet, so what exactly does the Flying Dutchman bring to the party?
“For Tim it’s bringing his support lines that he runs and his ability to score tries,” says Robinson stating what has been obvious to Edinburgh fans these last three years. “He’s very elusive in his ability to beat people when he gets the ball in hand. He’s got to take players on and he’ll be encouraged to take players on. It’s pretty simple, he’s got to bring the way he plays for Edinburgh onto the international stage.”
Is there a danger that the poor man will stumble under the burden of expectation brought about by an entire rugby nation keeping their fingers crossed that Scotland’s woeful try-scoring record will be single-handedly consigned to history?
“We’ve got to give him time,” says Robinson, the man who originally unearthed Visser. “We also have to remember that it’s his first cap and some people only get one cap and each international should be special and treated in that way. That’s what we are talking to him about, telling him to enjoy the moment and not to try too hard. Some players win one cap and that’s it so you’ve got to enjoy it. . . we’re hoping Tim has a long Scotland career.
“He’s played a lot of big games of rugby. The thing for us is that it’s his first test match and that’s how we approach it. It’s vital we don’t get ahead of ourselves and the victory [in Australia last week] was a really pleasing one for everyone involved. But we’ve gone from one [weather] extreme to the next and now it’s about delivering a performance away from home in Fiji.
“Think of the last time that Scotland were here, with what was a very good side, they got blown away. Fiji aren’t coming into this cold, they’ve had a couple of run-outs as well. They look in very good form at developing their game.”
At least Visser has some able support in the try-scoring business from Robinson’s other recruit. Max Evans has looked sharp all season and in training too, at least until Tuesday when he came down with the same stomach bug that has attacked about five players in the squad.
Robinson talked about the little winger’s ability to beat a man in tight spaces and is still hoping that the former scrum-half/centre will develop into one of the world’s deadliest wingers.
Despite the retirement of Simon Webster, Simon Danielli and Thom Evans, as well as the injury that kept Lee Jones at home, Robinson has options out wide on this tour which were not available to him during the Six Nations.
He was also at pains to mention Tom Brown who, the coach insisted, “didn’t look out of place when winning his first cap against Australia”.
Robinson was obviously pleased to end a sequence of seven losing Tests but makes no secret of the fact that the horrendous conditions in Newcastle were a leveller.
Scotland registered the northern hemisphere’s only win last week, so does the coach think the gap is wider than ever before or did narrow defeats for England to South Africa and Wales to a full-strength Wallabies indicate that home advantage is the only real difference?
“There is one team with a huge gap over everyone and that is New Zealand,” said Robinson. “I thought they were tremendous [in a 42-10 win over Ireland]. The way that New Zealand played was exemplary. To have that as their first game as World champions was a very special performance and that is credit to the coaching team and the players. I’ve been involved in a team that won a World Cup and what happens after that can be very difficult.”
The weather in Newcastle meant that Scotland’s new-look attack has yet to be properly tested. But it is an exciting back division and is operating under a new attack coach in Scott Johnson. Saturday will be a big Test in every sense of the word.
While Robinson tinkered with the backs, insisting both changes were injury related, the coach resisted shuffling his pack. Once again he opted for two specialist No 7s in the back row and, once again, his reasoning is much the same as it was in Newcastle – the breakdown.
“One of the key things for me was that we have to play our way against Fiji and we have to put pressure on their ability to win ball,” said Robinson. “When Fiji have kept the ball through multiple phases they get confidence in their running game, their get their support game and their offloads going. We have to be able to turn their ball over after two of three phases and put them under pressure when we are defending. I think [John] Barclay gives us that after the way he performed in the last game.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: West