FORMER Crusaders wing Maitland, now a Scottish international, is cautious about the chances of Gatland recruiting him for his 37-man squad for the Lions’ 10-match tour of Hong Kong and Australia in June but will undoubtedly be glued to news networks when the squad is revealed on May 1.
Maitland, who joined the Glasgow Warriors club late last year and was fast-tracked into the Scotland starting side, says his contact with fellow Kiwi Gatland has been limited.
Although they attended the same secondary school, he isn’t expecting the “old school tie” routine to earn any favours.
“He was the Waikato coach when I was at Hamilton Boys’ High School. I hadn’t seen him in about six years but I bumped into him after a Scotland game.
“I said ‘gidday’ and he gave me a few tips and work-ons – that was about it really,” said Maitland, who was born in Tokoroa and boarded at Hamilton Boys’.
“The Six Nations was pretty stop-start and all about building pressure and territory which is not what I am really used to with the dry grounds of Super Rugby and expansive game plans there.”
Playing for a Scotland side that focuses on passionate defence and winning territory means Gatland probably hasn’t been fixated by many clips of Maitland’s attacking runs during that tournament.
While Gatland may select men such as Welshmen George North and Alex Cuthbert as his test wings, he will also require dirt-trackers for a tour that begins against a Barbarians side in Hong Kong.
“Everyone is asking about the Lions – but that is going to be tough to make, especially with so many good outside backs around,” Maitland said. “It would be bloody good if it happened. Otherwise I have a tour with Scotland of South Africa in the summer.”
Wins over Ireland and Italy ensured Scotland finished third in the Six Nations.
“I don’t know how that works out – finishing third with just two wins,” Maitland mused. “But in that win against Ireland we pretty much defended the whole game and won it. That’s the sort of rugby you have here. It is built on defence and they are always going to be tight games.
“You have to get your kick-and-chase game locked down and go looking more for the ball.”
The 24-year-old’s departure from New Zealand was accelerated by the Crusaders’ decision to de-list him during the selection process for this year’s squad.
He may have been re-selected through the draft but didn’t wait to find out.
Having Scottish grandparents ensured he was immediately eligible for the Six Nations.
Although Glasgow never qualified for the Heineken Cup playoffs, they have been more successful in the RaboDirect PRO12 competition and sit second behind Ulster.
Maitland hears plenty of Kiwi accents among opposition teams.
He met former Canterbury coach Rob Penney and Casey Laulala when Glasgow belted Munster 51-24 last month and last weekend played Kahn Fotuali’i, now with Ospreys.