Scotland's kilted Kiwi Sean Maitland has no fear of Twickenham as he prepares to face England in the Six Nations

 

Twickenham hoodoo? What Twickenham hoodoo? When Scotland venture on to Billy Williams' old cabbage patch on Saturday they will be blooding a player who happens to boast a 100 per cent record there. "Yeah, it was cool," Sean Maitland said yesterday, recalling his one and only appearance at England's HQ. "We won. We scored 44 points. And I got two tries."

Scotland might have last beaten the auld enemy in south-west London back in the mists of 1983 but their debutant right-winger savoured victory there in March 2011. Mind you, Maitland was playing for the Crusaders that day – in a Super 15 contest against the Sharks, transported to Twickenham to aid the Christchurch earthquake appeal. Richie McCaw was on the injured list but his team still boasted the likes of Dan Carter, Israel Dagg, Kieran Reid, Brad Thorn and Sonny Bill Williams.

At that time, Maitland – born in Tokoroa, a small town near Hamilton that also spawned Richard Kahui, Keven Mealamu and Isaac Boss – harboured ambitions of making his senior international debut in the All Black jersey.

Having failed to make the home grade, however, the former New Zealand Under-19 and Under-20 back-three player has made use of his Caledonian family heritage to become the latest in a long line of kilted Kiwis, stretching back to Sean Lineen.

After five appearances for Glasgow, the 24-year-old has been fast-tracked straight into Scotland's starting XV for their Six Nations opener – thanks to the Scottish qualification given to him by his granddad, Stan, a welder in the Clyde shipyards who emigrated from Glasgow to New Zealand in the 1970s.

"I'm proud of my Scottish heritage," Maitland reflected, after being named as the only new face by the interim head coach, Scott Johnson, in a Scotland team that features Greig Laidlaw at scrum-half (rather than outside-half), Johnnie Beattie at No 8 and Dougie Hall at hooker. "My granddad brought over a Scotch pie-making machine with him. I grew up eating Scotch pies with HP sauce."

Johnson, an Australian himself, made no apologies for selecting a player born, bred and raised in New Zealand – a prolific finisher in the Super 15 who happens to be blessed with 10.8sec 100m speed.

"We can't look in an insular way," Johnson said. "Look at the team we are playing at the weekend. They have probably the largest base of rugby players in the world and they have a substantial number of non-English boys in their squad. This is the reality of professional sport. It's not a reflection on Scotland.

"The reality is that Sean's family are very proud of their Scottish history. He understands that history and he has come here to ply his trade. He's Scottish and I certainly see him as part of that future for Scotland."

If nothing else, Maitland will bring a keen sense of perspective to the pressure cooker of the international arena. He was caught in the middle of the earthquake that struck Christchurch two years ago. "I was injured at the time, but when the earthquake hit I just ran," he recalled. "That was a very scary day."

Maitland also survived the day his cousin chased him at primary school wielding a chair. Quade Cooper was brought up in Tokoroa with Maitland before emigrating to Australia. "Yeah, he was chasing me, trying to smash me with this little chair," Maitland said of the Wallaby fly-half cum pro boxer. "I just ran away from him."

Now that he will be running down the wing in the Scotland No 14 shirt on Saturday afternoon, the freshly-kilted Kiwi will have the chance to succeed where his former Crusaders team-mates Carter and McCaw failed in the last international held at Twickenham.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing