Ex Scotland international Tim Visser joined The Telf Rugby Podcast this week and spoke about his frustration on missing out on the Lion Tour 2013 along, with the potential Scottish representation this year.
The following are excerpts from that interview from podcast host and Last Word on Rugby contributor, Alastair Telfer
Discussing the Lions 2013 tour with Tim Visser
He was asked whether he felt hard done by on not making the squad in 2013.“At that point, I had done literally everything I could have done. If at any point it was going to happen, it was going to be that year.
“I was in the Dream Team every year, I was top try scorer every year. I had just become Player of the Year voted by all the other players in the league. There’s literally no more honourable accolade you can achieve (in my mind) and I was on fire for Scotland,” revealed Visser.
“If you look at the other wingers in that squad, the competition was pretty nuts. Alex Cuthbert was really good for Wales, Tommy Bowe was great, George North – who has just played 100 games for Wales – he’s one of the best wingers around.
“What did hurt me is that when we went to South Africa with Scotland instead, there were a couple of injuries and instead of flying me in, [Gatland] flew Christian Wade in. Christian Wade got picked up in the first game he played by I think Folau, thrown to the side of the pitch as if he were a ragdoll and obviously never played again.”
Tim Visser honestly answered questions that many other fringe players will have also felt after not being selected. Some still hold positive sentiment for the famous red jersey, yet others have opinions that ask how calls by recent coaches and management, have been less positive on the club’s selection policies.
Some decisions by Lions management are ‘Devaluing the Jersey’
The discussion then turned to the last Lions tour. “He’s done that again, not personally. But if you look at the last Lions tour, I was in Australia at the time, [the Lions] had a couple of injuries, they were obviously in New Zealand, and just because for ease he had the Wales team, I think they were in Samoa, he called four players into that Lions tour who ended up playing a midweek match. Some of which we either had never heard of before or since never seen again. It’s stuff like that, in my mind, devalues the jersey.”
Following this, he spoke about Scottish players and the Lions in general. “Scotland has always been underrepresented. And I think he probably looked at me and just saw my defensive weaknesses, and just said, “Right, I’m not taking him, it’s as easy as that,” because it can’t have been anything.”
Visser was then asked if Gatland came to watch Scotland training camps in the build-up to a Lions tour “With Scotland, he [Gatland] used to stand next to the pitch on his phone, and then have lunch with us then bugger off essentially.”
While Gatland was only one member of the coaching and selection panel, the implication is that for some, all the effort and hope they hold can end in disappointment. His view gives fans an insight into how the player feels; an emotional and observation that many will find compelling.
Tim Visser on this year’s Lions Tour
Visser was however very excited as he looked towards the potential Scottish players going on this year’s tour. “If you look at this year and the way Scotland has been doing, I’m excited. I think obviously Hamish Watson, in my mind, is the first name on that team sheet. Hoggy will be there, he’s been outstanding for years on end now.
“Zander Fagerson, maybe? [Finn] Russell might go. I think Duhan van der Merwe should go, I think he’s been absolutely brilliant. Maybe [Jonny] Gray? There’s some real representation this year. Or should be, and if there isn’t then it just shows where Gatland is with his head.”
Watch the full YouTube clip and the interview below:
As the hype builds around this year’s British and Irish Lions squad selection, you cannot help but think Gatland will stick to his guns. Yes, he will heed the input from his group of assistant coaches (including a couple of International coaches). Yet he is [somewhat] unlikely to listen to an ex Scotland international……or will he?
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