Sean Maitland’s meteoric rise up the rugby rankings was confirmed when he was named in the 2013 British & Irish Lions squad to tour Hong Kong and Australia.
The New Zealand-born wing only joined Glasgow Warriors in October and won his first Scottish cap – his father is Scottish – in the first round of the 2013 RBS 6 Nations. Now he will be returning to the southern hemisphere to line-up against his cousin, Quade Cooper.
“We’ve been battling against each other since the age of five when he beat me in a long distance race in New Zealand! The last few battles we’ve had he has had the wood over me, but hopefully I can get one back now,” said Maitland.
“I will give him a call later on and give him a bit of stick. It is going to be quite funny and I’m really excited about going to Austalia.
“I’m pretty speechless right now – I listened to the announcement with my Glasgow Warriors team mates and everyone was cheering when they called out Stuart Hogg’s name and then mine. I can’t describe how I am feeling.
“It has been a roller-coaster ride for me since I decided to come over here and achieve new goals. It was a decision that just happened to coincide with a Lions year and it has worked out well for me.”
Maitland will follow in the footsteps of Arthur O’Brien, Pat McEvedy and Riki Flutey as New Zealand-born players who have played for the British & Irish Lions and will be one of three players in the 2013 squad who were born in New Zealand, along with Dylan Hartley and Mako Vunipola.
O’Brien played on the 1904 tour while studying medicine at Guy’s Hospital and also acted as manager of the tour. That party also included fellow Guy’s student, McEvedy, who also toured with the Lions in 1908.
A product of the same school as head coach Warren Gatland, Hamilton School for Boys, he was playing his rugby in New Zealand until Glasgow Warriors signed him on a three-year contract earlier this season, arriving in Scotland in October, 2012.
He made his Warriors debut in the Heineken Cup clash with Castres Olympique on December 7 and won his first Scottish cap after a mere six appearances for his new club. He then became the first Scotsman to score a try on his RBS 6 Nations debut when he scored in the defeat against England in round one.
He was in the New Zealand U19 team that won the IRB World Championship in Belfast in 2007, beating Sam Warburton’s Wales side along the way, and then featured in a New Zealand side that won the inaugural IRB World Junior Championships in Wales in 2008 by beating Ireland, the hosts and then England in the final.
He was on the bench for the Crusaders when they beat the Waratahs in the 2008 Super Rugby final and was a losing finalist in 2011. In the latter campaign he scored a record four tries in one game against the Brumbies. He also played in four successful Canterbury sides that won NPC titles between 2008-2011. In all, he scored 20 tries in almost 50 games for Canterbury and made more than 50 Super Rugby appearances for the Crusaders.