By Neale Harvey
Ace finisher Tim Visser aims to spearhead a Quins revival this season after giving the mental grind of Test rugby the heave-ho.
Harlequins wing Visser notched 14 tries in 33 Scotland appearances but failed to appear in this year’s Six Nations after being included in their squad.
Visser, one of rugby’s most reliable finishers having scored 90 tries in 178 league games for Newcastle, Edinburgh and Harlequins over 11 top-flight seasons, says he will now concentrate all his efforts on helping to turn things around at Quins.
Dutchman Visser, 31, said: “It was a big decision but not a snap one because it had been running around my mind for a few months.
“I’d been on the fringes of the Scotland squad since 2017 and although Gregor Townsend said he wanted me to fight for a spot, it felt the time was right.
“I could potentially have got more caps but I didn’t feel I was going to play in another World Cup, nor did I have a huge desire to play in one. I always wanted to end things on my own terms and not be one of those guys who just hangs around and then gets cut.
“Besides, you can stifle young talent and Scotland have Blair Kinghorn and Dougie Fife coming through strong.”
Visser explained how travelling became the clincher, adding: “During the Six Nations I was dashing up from London to Edinburgh on a Sunday night, training Monday and Tuesday and then not being selected and travelling back again that evening.
“If you’re a single lad it’s all pretty easy but with two kids it became quite emotionally strained. My wife was very supportive but I found it hard not knowing what I was doing even a day in advance and it made it difficult training and playing for Quins.
“On one occasion during a fallow week I drove to Scotland, then over to Holland to see my parents before driving back to Scotland and then London. We had hours and hours in the car to talk it over and I knew that was going to be it.
“Gregor said he’d hoped to change my mind and had plans for me on the summer tour, but he appreciated my feelings and I’ve had no regrets. I’ve watched the boys play and it didn’t hurt, so I wish Scotland well but it’s time to move on.”
Visser has bagged 30 tries in 61 games for Quins since joining in 2015 and knows he needs to get a few more this season to help right the wrongs of a disastrous last campaign which resulted in the dismissal of rugby director John Kingston after a tenth place finish.
He said: “It was a hugely disappointing season, particularly as it was the last of my initial three-year contract and, having arrived at the club with James Horwill and Jamie Roberts back in 2015/16, we’d all felt strongly that it was going to be our year.
“John Kingston thought we’d prepared for guys being away on international duty and we wanted to build on Champions Cup qualification the year before, so while I’m not saying we were ready to win things, we were aiming for at least the top four.
“It didn’t work out and John leaving the club was incredibly sad, but we’ve got a good opportunity to put that behind us now and turn things around.
“Last season was broken by injuries and our defence wasn’t good enough, but the fact Paul Gustard is a defence coach is probably a good thing. He’s a fresh face as head of rugby and sometimes it’s just a slightly different approach that’s needed.”
With Nathan Earle arriving from Saracens and England U20 star Gabriel Ibitoye pushing hard for first-team selection, Visser added: “We’ve got Alofa Alofa as well and Charlie Walker was on fire last season so there’s lots of finishing power.
“I got to double figures in tries last season which is always an aim for me, so hopefully I can be as consistent and give those boys a fight for their places. I’ve got two years dedicated to Harlequins now and hope to make that count.”
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