Winger Tim Visser knows better than most about the importance of Stuart Hogg to Scotland – and he believes his former teammate will be pivotal again to their Six Nations ambitions.
Ex-Hawick favourite Hogg has amassed 65 caps for his country over the last six years and played every minute of last year’s Championship as Scotland finished third – their best result since 2006.
The 26-year-old full-back often played alongside Visser in the Scotland back three before the Harlequins man announced his retirement from international rugby earlier this year.
And Visser, who scored 14 tries in 33 appearances for his country, and benefited from Hogg’s service on many occasions, expects him to be more dangerous than ever before in 2019.
“He is hugely important to Scotland,” said Visser. “He is an incredible player and he is really good on that outside break and playing behind the pack, which is really denting teams.
“Looking at the likes of Stuart McInally, Jonny Gray and some of the other powerhouses we have in that pack, we can really benefit from that.
“He’s not afraid to get the ball in his hands or be the first receiver either. He can be a playmaker but when he gets the ball in his hands in those outside break positions on the pitch, he is as dangerous as you’ve ever probably seen him.
“The comforting thing behind that is that Blair Kinghorn has put in some really big performances for Edinburgh. If something were to happen to any of our top players, he can step in.”
The Harlequins winger was joined at The George pub in Twickenham by club teammates Nathan Earle and Matt Luamanu to help launch Greene King’s The Last Drop Out promotion.
Customers at Greene King pubs who are handed the last pint of the barrel will receive a golden ticket which has a range of prizes - from a free pint of Greene King IPA to Rugby World Cup tickets.
Visser will be lining up against Hogg from the start of next season after the Glasgow Warriors player announced he would be coming to Premiership side Exeter Chiefs on a two-year deal.
And Visser expects Hogg’s qualities in attack to make him one of the players to watch during this Year’s Six Nations, while Finn Russell is another player who will be on his radar for Scotland.
“I’m biased but I think back three players are the most exciting, so you have to look at Jacob Stockdale for Ireland, Elliot Daly for England, Stuart Hogg for Scotland,” he said.
“They are the kind of players I always look out for and I think are the most exciting because they score the tries. But Finn Russell will be good to watch as will Sergio Parisse for Italy.”
And Visser has high hopes for Scotland in this year’s Championship, with the 31-year-old backing them to continue their upward trend by bettering last year’s third-place finish.
“I think it’s the strongest Scotland have been, especially if you look at some of the players that were considered young players a couple of years ago who are now established internationals,” he said.
“The likes of Stuart McInally, who is now captain of the side, Jonny Gray, Finn Russell – the list goes on and, below that, you have some really exciting young talent coming through again.”
Visser was airing his views as Harlequins stars joined rugby fans to tackle some of the most memorable sporting moments over a cold pint of Greene King IPA (follow @GreeneKingIPA #TheLastDropOut for more information).