His father scoffed at the suggestion, claiming his son had to fight his way into the Scotland team first, but could Johnnie Beattie follow in the footsteps of his ‘old man’ and create the fifth ‘father and son’ team in British & Irish Lions history?
Beattie junior has been selected as one of seven personnel changes in the Scotland side to travel to Twickenham for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations opener against England – his first game in blue since the pre-2011 Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Ireland.
His switch to Heineken Cup quarter-finalists Montpellier this season has seen a re-birth in his play and he will be in the middle of a Scottish back row that also includes skipper Kelly Brown and Alasdair Strokosch.
John Beattie senior went on two Lions tours, in 1980 and 1983, and these days is a highly respected commentator on rugby in Scotland. Although he laughed at the prospect of seeing his son join him in the exalted ranks of Lions players, Johnnie’s selection for this weekend puts him in with a shot.
There are only four sons who have followed their fathers in becoming Lions in the 125 year history of the touring team:
- Andrew (1896 – 21 games, 4 Tests) and Jamie (1924 – 12 games) Clinch
- Herbert (1924 – 14 games, 3 Tests) and Gordon (1959, 1962 – 22 games, 2 Tests Waddell
- Gordon (1959 – 15 games, 2 Tests and Keith (1997, 2001 – 11 games, 5 Tests) Wood
- Derek (1971, 1977, 1980 – 33 games, 5 Tests) and Scott (1997, 2001 – 9 games, 3 Tests) Quinnell
In addition, Leinster and Ireland wing Luke Fitzgerald became a Test Lion on the 2009 tour to South Africa while his father, Des, played in the Lions side that met the Rest of the World XV in Cardiff in 1986 to help celebrate the IRB Centenary.
Scotland have also recalled Beattie’s former Glasgow Warriors team mate Dougie Hall for his first start at hooker in six years and have handed a first start to New Zealand import Sean Maitland. The former Canterbury, Crusaders and Maori wing qualifies for Scotland via a grandparent.
Interim coach Scott Johnson told scottishrugby.org: "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."
Maitland’s switch from New Zealand to Scotland will put him on the Lions’ radar and if he were to gain selection he could find himself playing against one of his cousins this summer, Queensland Reds and Australian outside half Quade Cooper.
"I'm very proud to be given the opportunity to start by Johnno – it's very special and I'm very proud. My parents are happy for me too. They are very proud and talking to my dad, he's a man of little emotion, but he definitely showed a lot of emotion when I told him the news," said Maitland.
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors)
14 Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors)
13 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors)
12 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby)
11 Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby)
10 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors)
9 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby)
1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors)
2 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors)
3 Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors)
4 Richie Gray (Sale Sharks)
5 Jim Hamilton (Gloucester Rugby)
6 Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan)
7 Kelly Brown (Saracens) captain
8 Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier)
16 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby)
17 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors)
18 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby)
19 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors)
20 David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby)
21 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors)
22 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors)
23 Max Evans (Castres)
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Jerome Garces (France) and Francisco Pastrana (Argentina).
TMO: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)