Although Chris Cusiter appeared to add urgency to Scotland’s efforts last week
when he came on as substitute for Mike Blair, head coach Andy Robinson has
resisted calls to make a third change so the Edinburgh scrum-half will start
A stomach bug doing the rounds, meant that five players were unable to take a
full part in training. Robinson believes that all will be fit by the weekend
but is wary of the risk that others may go down with it.
Robinson dismissed the suggestion that the two wing changes would have
happened regardless of injury as “hypothetical”.
However, he did accept that Edinburgh flier Visser, who has been the
RaboDirect Pro12 leading try scorer for the last three seasons, was always
likely to win selection for this game.
“It is simple, he has to bring the way he plays for Edinburgh onto the
international stage,” Robinson said.
“What Tim has to do is bring the support lines that he runs and his ability to
“He is very elusive in his ability to beat people and when he has the ball in
hand he has the ability to take players on and has to be encouraged to have
a real go.”
Visser is the only uncapped player in the side, although Ryan Grant, who made
his debut in the 9-6 win against Australia, and Matt Scott, who was making
his first start in that game, both keep their places. Ross Ford will again
captain the team.
“We are delighted with our win over Australia but also respectful of the fact
that conditions played a big part in that,” added Robinson.
“It is important that we build on our very good defensive performance with a
good attacking performance, as well as defensive.
“The one thing that we know about Fiji is that they hit hard in defence and
I’m sure Netani [Talei, the Fijian captain who plays for Edinburgh] will be
talking to his team about getting stuck into our players.
“If you think about our attacking game, it was very difficult conditions to
show anything in the Australia match so I wanted to give the halfbacks that
opportunity and Matt Scott, Nick De Luca and Stuart Hogg in the backline
that opportunity to be able to show what they can do. I thought our pack
“We have got to be able to put pressure on Fiji in the tackle contest.
“We have also got to play against Fiji in the Scotland style, not Fiji style.
That will be important for us, if we try to play sevens against them, we
will be beaten by this Fijian team.
“Having watched them play against Samoa and Japan I have been highly impressed
with their offloading and running skills.”
Scotland (v Fiji, Churchill Park, Lautoka, Saturday): S Hogg (Glasgow);
M Evans (Castres), N De Luca (Edinburgh), M Scott (Edinburgh), T Visser
(Edinburgh); G Laidlaw (Edinburgh), M Blair (Edinburgh); R Grant (Glasgow),
R Ford (Glasgow, capt), E Murray (Newcastle), A Kellock (Glasgow), R Gray
(Glasgow), A Strokosch (Gloucester), R Rennie (Edinburgh), J Barclay
(Glasgow). Replacements to be announced.
Edinburgh have got ‘taste’ for Heineken
Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley believes his side will carry self-belief from
their recent Heineken Cup campaign into next season’s competition and have
no reason to fear a draw that has placed them in the same pool as
twice-winners Munster as well as Saracens and Racing Metro.
The capital club became the first Scottish side in Heineken Cup history to
reach the semi-finals. They were stopped at that stage by Ulster, who went
on to lose the final against Leinster, but Bradley argued that his side has
moved up to a level where it can compete regularly in Europe.
“I think everyone will be setting their targets high in this competition,”
said Bradley. “We can certainly draw on last season’s experience as we now
understand what drives sides like Munster, Toulouse and Leinster, to get to
the latter stages on an annual basis, because it’s such an exciting
“Last year Edinburgh Rugby got a taste of that and I think the confidence in
our players will have grown from that experience. We fear nobody.
“We will be confident in all our matches, as we were last year. We will
prepare well for this group and look forward to the fantastic challenge.”
Yesterday’s draw put Glasgow in the same Pool Four as two former winners,
Northampton and Ulster. It also lined up a return to his former club for
Scotland winger Max Evans, whose current club, Castres, are the fourth seeds
in Glasgow’s group.