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Kiwi Maitland to make Scotland debut vs England


Former Crusaders wing Sean Maitland

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Article Published: Wednesday 30 January 2013


New Zealand-born Sean Maitland is set to join the ranks of Scotland's 'kilted Kiwis' after he was handed a Test debut for the Calcutta Cup Six Nations clash away to England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The 24-year-old wing, who played for the Maori All Blacks and New Zealand's Under-20s, only arrived in Scotland in October after signing a three-year contract with Glasgow.

But he is now in line to follow the likes of New Zealand-born Sean Lineen and the Leslie brothers, John and Martin, in representing Scotland.

Maitland was one of six changes and a positional switch announced by interim coach Scott Johnson from the side that lost to Tonga in November when the Australian unveiled his first Scotland team on Tuesday.

That 21-15 defeat by the Pacific Islanders in Aberdeen led Andy Robinson, the former England flanker and coach, to resign as Scotland's head coach.

In the backs, Sean Lamont moved from wing to centre while Ruaridh Jackson returned at outside-half and Greig Laidlaw, best known at international level as a fly-half, makes a first Test start at scrum-half -- the position in which he began his career.

Up front, Johnson gave a first Test start in six years to hooker Dougie Hall, while No 8 Johnnie Beattie was recalled after impressing at French club Montpellier, with Johnson saying: "He brings dynamism to our back-row and we're looking for him to bring that to bear on Saturday."

Beattie was set to form a re-shaped loose forward trio featuring Scotland captain Kelly Brown at openside flanker and Alasdair Strokosch at blindside.

Lock Jim Hamilton was recalled to partner Richie Gray, while the front-row saw Ryan Grant, back from injury in at loosehead prop with Hall starting a Test for the first time since the 2007 Championship match against Ireland.

Meanwhile, tight-head prop Euan Murray was poised to become the 33rd Scotland player to reach the landmark of 50 caps.

"Sean Maitland is very proud to be pulling on the Scotland jersey for the first time," Johnson told the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) website on Tuesday.

"His family will be rapt because they raised him in New Zealand always reminding him of his Scottish heritage, getting up in the early hours of the morning to watch both the Five and Six Nations games on the TV.

"He's shown he can play footy with the best of them and the impact he's made since arriving at Glasgow in the autumn has underlined what we'd seen of him playing for the Crusaders in Super Rugby."

Saturday's match will be the 131st edition of rugby's oldest international fixture, first played in 1871, and Johnson said: "I've spoken about the importance of this competition, the history and tradition of it, and you couldn't get a more mouth-watering opening than the game between international rugby's oldest foes.

"Selection for us has been about form but also with an eye to the future," added Johnson, who named Laidlaw and Grant as his two vice-captains.

Scotland, who finished with the wooden spoon in last season's Six Nations, have not won at Twickenham for 30 years.

However, they will hope there is a favourable omen in selecting Laidlaw at scrum-half as his uncle, Roy Laidlaw, a legendary Scottish No 9, was one of their two-try scorers when Scotland beat England 22-12 at Twickenham in 1983.

England, who in their last match defeated world champions New Zealand at Twickenham in December, are due to name their side on Thursday.

Scotland (15-1)

Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Sean Lamont, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw; Johnnie Beattie, Kelly Brown (capt), Alasdair Strokosch; Jim Hamilton, Richie Gray; Euan Murray, Dougie Hall, Ryan Grant

Replacements: Ross Ford, Moray Low, Geoff Cross, Alastair Kellock, David Denton, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir, Max Evans

 
 
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