Saturday 29 April 2017

New Zealander Maitland to make debut for Scots against England

NEW Zealand-born Sean Maitland will make his Scotland debut against England in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations Championship opener against England, the Scottish Rugby Union has confirmed.

The 24-year-old wing qualifies for Scotland through his grandparents and he will be joined in the starting line-up at Twickenham by his Glasgow Warriors team-mate and hooker Dougie Hall.

Interim head coach Scott Johnson has made six personnel changes to the side that ended the EMC Tests with a 21-15 defeat to Tonga in November - a result that prompted Andy Robinson's resignation - also making one positional change.

Number eight Johnnie Beattie is recalled, with Ruaridh Jackson returning at stand-off, Sean Lamont moving from wing to centre and Greig Laidlaw starting at scrum-half for the first time at international level.

Ryan Grant is restored at loosehead prop following injury while Jim Hamilton is recalled to partner Richie Gray in the second row.

Johnson told "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.

"Sean Maitland is very proud to be pulling on the Scotland jersey for the first time. 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.

"I've named Greig and Ryan as vice-captains because they're both quality rugby players and the sort of blokes that I reckon can add to the leadership mix.

"I've been impressed by what I've seen of Johnnie Beattie. He brings dynamism to our back-row and we're looking for him to bring that to bear on Saturday."

Team: 15-Stuart Hogg, 14-Sean Maitland, 13-Sean Lamont, 12-Matt Scott, 11-Tim Visser, 10-Ruaridh Jackson, 9-Greig Laidlaw, 8-Johnnie Beattie, 7-Kelly Brown, 6-Alasdair Strokosch, 5-Jim Hamilton, 4-Richie Gray, 3-Euan Murray, 2-Dougie Hall, 1-Ryan Grant

Replacements: 16-Ross Ford, 17-Moray Low, 18-Geoff Cross, 19-Alastair Kellock, 20-David Denton, 21-Henry Pyrgos, 22-Duncan Weir, 23-Max Evans

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