When Tim Visser was asked about World Rugby’s controversial residency rule, which has been in the headlines again this week following Cornell du Preez’s call-up to the Scotland squad, it was hardly surprising that the Netherlands-born winger took a positive view on the matter.
The 29-year-old former Edinburgh player qualified for Scotland on residency grounds in 2012 after fulfilling the three-year requirement and has since been followed down the same path by South Africa-born forwards WP Nel, Josh Strauss and now Du Preez.
“I’m not going to criticise the process through which I’ve become eligible,” said Visser, who left Edinburgh for Harlequins last summer. “If you look at other sports it’s maybe slightly unusual. Cricket is seven years and in football it doesn’t exist.
“I guess it is slightly unusual but it’s a level playing field for every country. As long as the rule exists that’s the way it is. “There’s no point for me as a player criticising it. We get a quality player like Cornell. It’s the only way I personally could have played competitive international rugby. I can only say that it is an unusual rule but fortunately for myself it is the rule.”
Visser won a 27th cap for his adopted country against the Wallabies in the heart-wrenching 23-22 defeat in the opening Autumn Test and he believes lessons have been learned going into this Saturday evening’s encounter with Argentina.
“It was obviously ridiculously tight. I thought we put in a very good effort,” said the winger of the Aussie defeat. “We just didn’t make some of the right decisions at the right times, especially towards the end of the game. In the second half we kind of mucked around in our own half too much when we were ahead.
“That’s something we can learn from, they are easy points to take on board and we’ll take them into Argentina. The fact we are so competitive at the minute is fantastic. We are there or thereabouts in most games. Look at that France game in the Six Nations for instance [a 29-18 home win] where we did finish off the game.
“As long as we can put ourselves in positions to win and make the right decisions that’s all we can do. It is very painful when we don’t and come away with a one-point loss but you’ve got to take the positives and hopefully we’ll see off more games than we lose.”
Argentina used to known as a fairly one-dimensional forwards oriented side but have developed over the years, benefiting from having the Pumas in the Rugby Championship alongside Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and their Jaguares side in the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby competition.
In days gone by a winger wouldn’t be expecting too taxing a workload in a Pumas Test but, if selected when Vern Cotter names his team today, Visser is expecting to be kept on his toes by the World Cup semi-finalists.
He said: “One of their wingers looks enormous, the home-based player Manuel Montero. The little guy Santiago Corderro is really handy as well, he’s got an incredible step and I actually find that harder to defend against. It brings different challenges.
“But they’ve got quality throughout. If you look at what they did at the World Cup last year, they’re a very good side and we’re certainly not underestimating them at all.
“Before they started playing in the Rugby Championship they were a completely different team all the time. At home they would play a lot of their home-based players and for some of the big tournaments they would bring in the big dogs. Now they have a more steady team in terms of their starters and you can start to see a pattern emerge in how they play.”
Visser said he is loving life at Harlequins and believes the move to England has developed him as a player after being a bit stifled by the more conservative rugby played by the now former Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons.
“Certainly I feel I have discovered a bit of the old Tim, how I used to be back in the day at Edinburgh when I basically got a lot of the ball,” added Visser.
“That’s incredibly exciting for me as a winger. You want to be on the end of things and scoring tries.
“I feel like I have taken a lot out of that period under Solly, defensively I feel like I have grown as a player and benefited from that time when I was getting less ball at Edinburgh and focusing on other aspects of my game. I feel like I’ve become a more well-rounded player.
“At the end of the day, as a winger, you benefit from what happens around you. At a team like Harlequins we play a lot of creative rugby and a lot gets created for me. Which makes it a lot easier for me as a winger.”