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'Hell of a journey' for Scottish Jonah Lomu

Date

Toby Robson

Edinburgh winger Tim Visser is relishing the chance to play the All Blacks.

Edinburgh winger Tim Visser is relishing the chance to play the All Blacks. Photo: Getty images

EDINBURGH: Tim Visser looks like a lock, speaks like a Dutchman and once dreamed of emulating Jonah Lomu and Tana Umaga.

Hence he's not difficult to spot at the Scottish rugby team announcement where he is about the only person convincingly optimistic about Monday's test against the All Blacks.

Scotland's Flying Dutchman's entry to international rugby has been much-hyped since he scored two tries against Fiji in his Test debut in June.

It was no surprise to those who have seen the left wing dominate the Magners League with Edinburgh, the top try scorer for the past three seasons.

Not bad for a bloke who grew up in the football-obsessed Netherlands and didn't know professional rugby existed till he entered it.

"Rugby's a minority sport [in the Netherlands], but it's growing and participation levels are growing every year with the youth getting into it," he said this week.

"The thing is though it's not professional so there's no real funding for it. That's why the level we are at is stagnant. It's not really moving forward."

So how does a 1.93m, 109kg Dutchman who grew up in a country where rugby is dead in the water, end up playing a test match against the All Blacks?

"My dad always played rugby and I just followed in his footsteps. It was really a family sport, our friends our whole social circle was around the rugby club and I just sort of couldn't avoid it," Visser said.

"It's brilliant. As a kid not knowing there was such a thing as professional rugby and now being in it. Now being at international top level. It's been a hell of a journey."

Visser was plucked out of a sevens tournament in Amsterdam by Newcastle as a teenager and went on to represent England Schools at lock.

But it was watching players like Lomu and Umaga that drew him to the outside backs.

"We used to get the BBC in Holland so we'd watch the autumn internationals, the World Cup and see the Six Nations, stuff like that," Visser said. "We were aware of it, so we could follow most of the top nations in the world.

"Jonah Lomu, back in the day, that's where the whole wing thing started for me, especially on the left, it started being a bit bigger and the hype started. I did start in the back row for a little bit, but didn't enjoy it and ended up on the wing.

"There was [Tana] Umaga and a few other big names, but he [Lomu] was definitely the standout [influence]."

There is a touch of Lomu about Visser's size and pace with ball in hand and he can manhandle his opponents in defence too. He expects he'll be marking Cory Jane and says he plans to exploit his size advantage.

Which is a hint at perhaps his greatest asset for the Scots - his confidence.

"These games really get you going and I tend to perform in the bigger games, so hopefully that will come into play on Sunday," he said.

"You have to respect them, but at the same time it is just a game and whoever executes their game plan better on the day will win the game.

"We have to go in with confidence in our ability and the game plan. We have clear instructions on how to play the game."

So do you think you will win?" he was asked.

"I always think I will win."

Fairfax NZ News

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Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
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