Scotland's NZ-born wing dropped ahead of France finale
SQUAD UPDATE: Sean Maitland has been dropped from the 29-man Scotland squad preparing to face France in Friday’s Six Nations finale.
Maitland started last weekend’s 52-10 rout of Italy at Murrayfield at fullback in place of Stuart Hogg, with the Scotland captain moving to flyhalf after Finn Russell was ruled out with concussion.
Normally a wing, Maitland did not seem to be suffering from serious injury when replaced after 55 minutes by Jaco van der Walt.
But it appears the Saracens star’s absence from the France match may in part be a consequence of the agreement brokered between the Scottish Rugby Union and English clubs over player release.
Scotland should have played France in Paris last month, but the match was postponed until Friday – six days after the scheduled end of the Six Nations – because of a coronavirus outbreak in the French camp.
As the fixture is taking place outside of the tournament’s agreed window, clubs are no longer obliged to release players as would normally be required under World Rugby regulations covering international matches.
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But last weekend a compensation deal was reached between the SRU and Premiership Rugby Limited.
And while it is understood Saracens were prepared to release Maitland, the agreement limited Scotland to a certain number of England-based players.
But Hogg, who plays for English and European champions Exeter, has been included.
Club-mate Jonny Gray has been omitted, however, with the lock not recovering from the shoulder injury that kept him out of the Italy match.
Maitland and Gray are among seven English-based players to drop out of the squad announced Monday.
However, they are the only likely starters from that group when Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has all his leading players fully fit.
Meanwhile, flyhalf Adam Hastings, who made his comeback from suspension for Glasgow on Sunday, was recalled.
Russell, expected to be fit for Friday, has been released by Racing 92, his Paris-based club, with France’s leading players available as well.
‘No reason we can’t win’
If France, who denied Wales a Grand Slam with a thrilling last-ditch 32-30 win in Paris on Saturday, run in four tries for a bonus point and defeat Scotland by at least 21 points, they will be crowned champions instead of the Welsh.
But a bonus-point win for Scotland would see them take second place, despite narrow defeats by Wales and Ireland.
It is 22 years, however, since Scotland last beat France in Paris.
But having launched this campaign with an 11-6 success away to England – their first victory at Twickenham since 1983 – Scotland lock Grant Gilchrist sees no reason why they cannot enjoy another landmark win at the Stade de France.
“The boys won down in Wales at the end of last year’s Six Nations and then the win at Twickenham, it shows we can perform on the road,” he said.
“There is no reason why we can’t put our best game out there in France and no reason why we can’t win. We believe that, but we need to prove that on Friday.”