Six Nations: Tim Visser hails Scott Johnson style
He might be Dutch-born but Tim Visser knows what the French call joie de vivre when he experiences it.
Scotland’s free-scoring rugby winger believes the spirit of adventure in the squad nowadays exactly mirrors the glass-half-full attitude of interim coach Scott Johnson.
Since the 50-year-old Australian took over with a seemingly unlimited supply of one-liners and witticisms, the team’s fortunes have improved to the point where they stand on the brink of a hat-trick of wins for the first time since the Five Nations Championship became Six and Rob Wainwright was captain back in the mid-1990s.
Of course, Wales will be out to prevent that happening on Saturday at Murrayfield but Visser is certain of one thing: every single Scottish player will be pulling out the stops not only for the country but to thank the man in charge.
“Does a coach’s personality have an influence?” asked Visser rhetorically, before adding: “It influences how player’s work for him and in that respect Scott has been brilliant. He is very approachable and very honest. That means players know where they are at, and it all sort of focuses to one main point. I definitely want Scott to stay on.
“I knew a little bit about him from when he coached the Barbarians. That was always jolly anyway because of the atmosphere around the (select) team.
“It’s good to see he can still approach things with a bit of humour and keep things light hearted. (But) when he wants to bring things over that are very important we will know about it.
“He is just a nice guy to be around. He has created an atmosphere of enjoyment. He is bringing the joy back into the game for us as well.
“It is just fun being around him and the excellent approach of him towards the game and his knowledge of the game makes him a really good coach to be around.
“He highlights stuff and teaches you stuff as a player which I had never even heard about. Although I don’t get everything he says because of the accent I do love being coached by him.”
In his three games in charge Johnson’s team have scored as many tries – six – as they notched in the previous half dozen outings at Six Nations level. Visser is among those scorers, against Italy, and he revealed just how close he came to following up when Ireland visited a fortnight ago.
Deep inside the second half, Ronan O’Gara attempted a crossfield kick near his own posts and Visser, for a moment, couldn’t believe his luck. “I thought I was in for a try against Ireland,” admitted the player who qualified for Scotland on residency last summer and will earn his ninth cap this weekend.
“I came up as a defender and astonishingly saw O’Gara put in a crossfield kick which was ridiculous. When I kicked the ball through I thought I was going the whole way but someone bumped me.”
Since 2010 the longest Visser has gone without scoring a try for Edinburgh has been four matches and even then he was probably pausing for breath having run in five from four outings immediately beforehand. Little wonder he will be strongly fancied to get on the scoresheet this weekend and, while question marks have been raised against his defence, Visser insists he is more comfortable against the type of physical outside backs Wales possess.
“With their wingers being quite big that is something I prefer in terms of defending and tackling,” he said.
“It is not necessarily the physicality of a tackle I struggle with, more little wingers trying to sidestep and the positioning element.
“In that respect it won’t be as challenging as some of the other games I have played in although way Wales like to chuck it around it is always going to be challenging.”
Although honest enough to acknowledge he would take a good try over a good tackle any day, Visser is proud to be associated with the type of rearguard action that saw Scotland through against Ireland.
“It’s great to be able to contribute to that. There are areas where a few years ago I might have hidden,” explained the son of former Netherlands captain Marc Visser and whose counterpart George North saw his dad get on to the pitch to celebrate his try in Paris this season.
Might Marc be similarly tempted and, if so, how would Tim react? “My dad will be at the game but I can guarantee he won’t be running on the pitch.”
Which is not to say Visser junior doesn’t expect to be celebrating this weekend.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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