Kilted Kiwi Sean Maitland has received much praise for his role as England’s historic Six Nations face-off in a personal redemption story for the veteran winger.
The 32-year-old helped Scotland’s bid for Dohan van der Merwe in an 11-6 win over England, the first for the Scots at Twickenham in 38 years.
Various media outlets praised the previous Crusaders post as a “strong presence” in a “mature show” against an English team led by fellow Saracens, Owen Farrell.
It’s a fair cry from last October when Scotland dropped Maitland – one of the oldest wings in the global rugby game – for being one of 13 Barbara players guilty of violating Covid-19 restrictions by going to a restaurant and bar before a game in Twickenham against England.
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It was banned last December for four weeks – three of which were suspended – by Rugby Football Association.
Maitland is back for the Autumn Nations Cup campaign in Scotland, despite being largely used off the bench.
But he got coach Gregor Townsend approved to start on the right winger against England on Saturday.
His choice came despite the absence of a rugby club. The Muslims have been relegated from the English Premier League for repeatedly violating the salary cap rules and the second division season in the tournament does not begin until March.
The outbreak of The Barbarbians last October forced the Russian Football Association to cancel the match, costing him £ 1 million.
England coach Eddie Jones said the canceled Barbarians match had turned rugby into a “joke”.
Now, Maitland was once again a thorn in the side of the English rugby establishment.
Previous Crusaders Handout seems to book some of his best shows for England. He scored on his first Test at Twickenham in 2013, just months after he left New Zealand to join the Glasgow Warriors.
Although he did not land in the last Calcutta Cup match, Maitland was impressed with his enthusiasm at chasing kicks and his ability to compete with the ball in the air.
He got his hands on a clever Scottish flyhalf Finn Russell kick in the 31st minute, and the England defense beat the ball. Scotland moved quickly along the line in favor of Van der Merwe, its South African born winger weighing 1.93m and 106kg, to score near the left corner after breaking attempts by Farrell and winger Mark Wilson.
Maitland gained a lively area in Scotland and time in the final quarter when he received Farrell’s kick at his 22nd team and sprinted it to the 15 meters of the England streak.
Scotsman Maitland described Maitland’s performance as “a mature show from the Saracens winger who always seems to rise by the way against England”.
Maitland, who has not played for two months, said the Scottish Mail on Sunday added: “Outing is very strong, and it completely justified his choice.”
Sky Sports claimed that the wing was “a massively strong presence whenever asked to do so, and has put out some important plays in the air.”
Few international wings are still going strong in their early 30s, with the notable exception of Ben Smith. The Highlanders star made his last appearance with the All Blacks at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, aged 33 and 153 days.
Maitland will turn 33 in September, but doesn’t appear to be slowing down in his 16th season of professional rugby.
Maitland was born Tocorua’s cousin to former Quad Cup star, and made his debut in Canterbury in 2006.
He scored 20 attempts in 45 matches for Red and Black and 23 attempts in 54 matches for the Crusaders between 2008 and 2012.
But, despite winning the NPC titles, Ranfurly Shield and Super Rugby, representing New Zealand Under 20 and Maori All Blacks, Maitland never broke the All Blacks team, so he quit the Crusaders in 2012 at 24 to join Glasgow Warriors and capitalize on his Scottish heritage.
Maitland, who had Scottish grandparents, came back down with British and Irish lions in 2013.
Since moving to Europe, he has won 12 Premier League titles and the Champions Cup and played for Scotland in two World Cups. He played against his cousin, Pele Cowley, when Scotland met Samoa in Japan in 2019.
Maitland appeared in Test 51 with Scotland at Twickenham, where he was the fourth most capped player in the starting line-up for the Scots, behind Captain Stuart Hogg (81), locking Johnny Gray (62) and Russell (52). It scored 15 test attempts.
The European traveled kiwi saga won’t end for at least another year – it contracted Muslims until mid-2022.