What a start to the week for Edinburgh Rugby.
Although the disappointing loss over the weekend to Newport-Gwent Dragons will certainly sting, the team announced today that it has locked-up winger Tim Visser through the 2015 season. The emerging star scored a record 14 tries for the Black and Red Army last season and his extension is sure to thrill Edinburgh fans.
Since joining Edinburgh in 2009, the native Dutchman has excited Murrayfield crowds by scoring more tries than any other player in his first two years in the RaboDirect PRO12. A potent scorer, Visser's new deal comes as Edinburgh prepare for a quarterfinal Heineken Cup match against Toulouse on April 7 and as team looks to get back on track next week in the PRO12 against Connacht.
Visser spoke with reporters today about his confidence and excitement, about his new contract and how his team attempts to move on from Saturday's defeat.
"I am delighted to have secured this extension which will now allow me to focus on improving my game for another three years at a club on the up." Visser's enthusiastic comments allude to Edinburgh as a team poised for major improvements.
Adding to the delight in Edinburgh was last week's signing of 25-year-old prop WP Nel. Although the South African bruiser will not join his new teammates until July, Nel is another jolt for an organization looking add to a roster that is currently missing nine players competing in the Six Nations Championship. Known internationally for his durability and power, Nel has become renowned for his impressive bouts with Springbok force Tendai Mtawarira.
With players like David Denton, Greig Laidlaw, and Mike Blair missing as they compete for Scotland in the Six Nations, adding Nel and keeping Visser helps ensure that Edinburgh has a young and talented core looking to the future.
Head coach Michael Bradley identified this type of long-term thinking as constant and vital task for Edinburgh as they seek to improve.
"Not only are we preparing to be the first Scottish club to host a quarterfinal in the Heineken Cup," he said. "We are working exceptionally hard behind the scenes to ensure we have the right players in place so we can continue to break new ground and celebrate even greater successes in the years ahead."
Hardly the only side to lose players to the Six Nations, Edinburgh has struggled in the past weeks and even added Argentinian prop Ulises Gamboa to provide depth. But the Visser and Nel contracts should serve as a warning to the rest of the PRO12. Edinburgh is not ready to call it's quarterfinal appearance in the Heineken Cup an aberration. They are ready to take the next step.