Maitland hoping fatherhood the start of successful 2017

The new year should be an eventful one for Scotland wing Sean Maitland.

His club side, Saracens, continue to challenge at home and in Europe, while he has been included in Scotland’s Six Nations squad. But it is not only rugby dominating Maitland’s thoughts.

The 28-year-old was a late withdrawal from the Saracens matchday squad to face Scarlets in the European Champions Cup on Sunday to be with his wife who is heavily pregnant.

“It’s really exciting actually for my wife and I having our first child,” Maitland told ESPN.

“[We’ve] got a wee girl coming so it’s not just rugby [to look forward to] but the opportunity to be a Dad is pretty cool. Hopefully she won’t be too much longer in there.”

Maitland hasn’t taken too long to become a regular fixture for Saracens in his first season at the north London club who won the Premiership and Champions Cup last season.

Since signing from London Irish in August, Maitland has featured in 12 games in all competitions, and scored seven tries.

“For me personally it’s been a good move. I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to play rugby for a living but to be playing among a lot of quality in this team it’s been great for my rugby and for my confidence as well,” Maitland said.

“You get plenty of ball, and you get the chance to express yourself with ball in hand which is what I want to do.

“It certainly helps at Allianz Park where we play on a 4G pitch, especially for the backs. During the winter here some of the fields in the UK get a bit muddy, but when we play at home most of the time you get a dry ball.”

Mark McCall’s side will secure a home quarterfinal in the Champions Cup with a win over Toulon on Saturday, and they’re just three points behind Wasps in the Premiership.

But being in this territory at club level is nothing new to Maitland.

Maitland has won 26 Test caps for Scotland since his debut four years ago. KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

Before making himself eligible for Scotland in 2012, the wing enjoyed five seasons at the Crusaders in Super Rugby in New Zealand. He won a title in his first campaign, while the Crusaders made the playoffs every year he was involved.

“I would say the two clubs are quite similar in terms of values,” said Maitland.

“Everyone wants to beat you as well and they lift their game an extra five percent.

“At Saracens we pride ourselves on getting better every day and the way we train. We have a massive squad too with a lot of competition and that makes you want to improve individually.”

Maitland’s form should see him add to his 26 caps for Scotland in the Six Nations starting in little over a fortnight.

Three home Tests against Ireland, Wales and Italy has Maitland sensing an opportunity for Scotland to do something special.

“They are games we definitely know we can win. We’ve got form coming in from November, we probably should have been three from three. We beat a tough Argentina team, had a good result against Georgia, and we played the better rugby against Australia and probably deserved the win but that’s rugby sometimes,” Maitland said.

“As a team we definitely know what game we want to play, we’ve got some exciting young boys, a great backline and we’ve got a few guys coming back from injury in the forwards.

“The main thing for us is that we stay healthy. We don’t have that player depth that England, Ireland or Wales have.”

From an individual perspective Maitland knows what is at stake during the Six Nations.

In the 2013 tournament he caught the eye of British & Irish Lions coach and fellow Hamilton Boys High School alumnus Warren Gatland, with a try on debut for Scotland against England at Twickehnam.

It spelled the beginning of some strong performances for both Scotland and former club Glasgow Warriors, which was rewarded with inclusion in the Lions touring party to Australia in 2013.

Maitland toured Australia with the Lions in 2013. David Rogers/Getty Images

“This Six Nations is effectively a Lions trial,” Maitland said.

“It’s a massive year for rugby with the Lions heading down to New Zealand and that will definitely be in the back of people’s minds. There’s a lot of good players out there, I think it’ll come down to who puts their hands up. It’ll be exciting, there’s going to be some good rugby on show over the next couple of months.”

Given Maitland’s background a spot in the touring party would have extra significance.

He grew up in Waikato and represented the country of his birth at under age level before playing for the New Zealand Maori.

“It would be very special,” Maitland said.

“I was in the crowd at the New Zealand Maori game against the Lions at Waikato Stadium in 2005 and obviously it was a pretty mean win for New Zealand Maori. I think Jono Gibbes [Montpellier coach] was the captain.

“Probably not the best memories for the Lions that year but I remember that tour clear as day — that’s when Dan Carter was arguably playing his best rugby.”

He added: “I went to Australia a few years ago with the Lions and it was a huge honour and privilege to be involved in that. To experience what I did and see all the supporters who came down and to win the Test series there was unbelievable.

“I know how it feels to get selected, and it would be a huge honour to be selected again especially as it is in New Zealand. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.”

Just like Maitland’s imminent arrival, the man himself will be taking it one small step at a time.

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