SEAN Maitland was yesterday called into the Scotland squad for the Six Nations Championship after Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Rowe were unable to meet up for training because of illness.
Although the 33-year-old Saracens winger has not featured in the national team since last year’s Championship, he was a surprise omission from the squad of 39 announced by Gregor Townsend last week. The head coach had suggested after leaving Maitland and a couple of other senior players out of the Autumn Nations Series squad that they would be back for the Six Nations, which begins a week on Saturday with a game at BT Murrayfield against England.
Maitland can also slot in at full-back and would stand a reasonable chance of making it into the matchday 23 if Van der Merwe failed to be passed fit on time. For the time being at least, the Worcester winger is still expected to be in the starting line-up for the Calcutta Cup clash – although in a brief statement yesterday, Scottish Rugby gave no further details about Van der Merwe or Rowe other than to say that they “have not met up for training this week due to illness”.
London Irish winger Rowe, one of five uncapped players in the squad, has been in excellent form with his new club, which he joined from Edinburgh last summer. But even if he recovers in time to train next week, it remains probable that he will have to wait until later in the tournament to make his Test debut.
Bath forward Josh Bayliss also had to sit out training yesterday because of concussion. He made his debut against Australia in November then won his second cap against Japan a couple of weeks later.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh assistant coach Stevie Lawrie has declined to comment on speculation that Scotland squad member Magnus Bradbury is about to leave the club, other than to acknowledge that anyone playing as well as the forward has been doing recently is bound to attract attention from other quarters. “Maggie has been playing really well and we recognise that he will get attention from other clubs because of how he is playing,” Lawrie said.
“But I’m not at liberty to talk about players’ contractual situations. We understand that he is playing well and we can see why there is interest from elsewhere.”