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Maitland excited to face countrymen

Sean Maitland admits it will be "weird" lining up against close friends and his native New Zealand - but the wing just wants to build on the new sense of "fun" prevalent in the Scotland squad.

New Zealand-born Maitland embarked on a new career in Scotland in 2012 when he joined Glasgow and made himself available for his new home country courtesy of his Scottish father.

But he remains close to some in the All Blacks side, such as his former Crusaders team-mate Ryan Crotty, and even met up with some this week ahead of their clash at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.

And he insists he will have no problem taking on the land of his birth.

The British and Irish Lions squad player said: "I have good pals in the team who I grew up playing with. It's going to be special. There's a lot of emotions, listening to both anthems and facing the Haka. It's going to be a great occasion.

"It's going to be weird but I think you have just got to enjoy the moment. You don't get these opportunities to play the best team in the world very often. It's going to be so fast and you just have to enjoy it.

"You play your mates all the time these days, whether it's club or country. So it's normal but we had a laugh and joke about it.

"There might be a bit of banter on the field. I have a few mates in the team and I caught up with a couple the other night and it's good to see them.

"We tend not to talk about rugby too much. I hadn't seen them in a while so we were just catching up."

Maitland, who previously represented the Maori All Blacks, is adamant there will be no split loyalties.

"I always dreamed of playing for Scotland," he said. "My grandparents drilled it into me quite early.

"It's the thistle 100 per cent. The only anthem I'll be singing is Flower of Scotland."

Another New Zealander facing his native land is Scotland head coach Vern Cotter.

Maitland credits him with making a huge difference in his short spell in charge, which was evident in a 41-31 victory over Argentina in Scotland's first viagogo autumn Test.

"It was a great start and we played some great rugby for the first 60 minutes," the 26-year-old said.

"We let three easy tries in and the scoreline flattered the Pumas a bit.

"It was a good start but this is a massive week. We know we have to be at our utmost best to beat these guys. The last 20 minutes, if that happens against the All Blacks, they will put us away. We have to play an 80-minute game.

"Vern has put a good plan together. I think he wants us to play rugby and have fun. It showed on Saturday. We stick to our shape and chuck the ball around, we have a better understanding of how to play with width and speed. That's been a big difference.

"I think we know our roles a bit clearer. And as I said before, just having fun. Because rugby is a fun game, and when you are scoring tries like we did at the weekend, it makes it a lot more enjoyable in the changing rooms."


From Belfast Telegraph