The Offload chats to... Sean Maitland

March 08, 2018

After a disappointing start to their 6 Nations campaign, many were questioning whether the hype around this Scottish team was warranted. But once again, the Scots silenced their critics with an improved performance against the French and an impressive win over England, ending a 10-year drought and keeping their title hopes alive.

This week we caught up with winger Sean Maitland to talk Scotland’s form, the England win celebrations and his preview of the Ireland game. Check out what he had to say below…

It was a disappointing start for Scotland with a heavy loss to Wales at the Principality Stadium. What was the feeling like in the squad after that game?

We were taking a lot of confidence from our form over the autumn, and what with the media and fans building us up we were hugely disappointed with that result. It wasn’t through lack of trying, it was a few simple things like work rate and at times the boys weren’t working hard enough against a quality outfit like Wales. It’s always tough to go away to places like the Principality but after that performance, we knew that simply wasn’t good enough and there was a lot we could improve on.

You guys got your campaign back on track with a hard-fought 32-26 win over France. Was there a sigh of relief after picking up that win at Murrayfield?

Definitely! There was a lot of pressure on both the players and the coaches after the way we had performed against Wales. Being back at Murrayfield, which has been a bit of a fortress for us recently looking at the sides we’ve been able to beat there, it was a huge game for us. The French started off quickly, but the boys stuck in there and we managed to find a way to come back and win. It was very satisfying to beat France especially after our poor performance the week before.

After picking up that win against the French, how were you feeling going into the game against England?

I wouldn’t say confident, I’d say that we were “a little bit on edge” as we know how massive games against England are. Tickets for the game sold out in 5 minutes, so that just shows how much hype and anticipation there was around this game. The build-up around the game and building up to Saturday was amazing and it just reminded us of how important this fixture was. Not being able to get a win in 10 years and having not scored a try against them at Murrayfield since 2004, there was plenty of motivation going into the game. We trained unbelievably well in the week, and on the day itself we stuck to our game plan and executed it which was really pleasing. It obviously helped with guys like Finn Russell and Huw Jones being on fire that day – Huw’s highlight reel from that game seemed to be everywhere! The guys brought the x-factor and to beat England for the first time in 10 years was a pretty special moment.

“Hoggy was in the DJ booth playing all the tunes and the whole club was bouncing with all the boys having a great night!”

That was Scotland’s first victory over England since 2008. What did it mean to the players and the coaching staff to beat the English at home?

It was an incredible time to be involved in; everywhere you went you could see the smiles, the happiness and the laughter. Almost the whole of Murrayfield stayed in the stadium to clap us around after the game which was pretty surreal. The whole night flew by to be honest; from the game, to the hotel, to the night out, it just went by so fast and I didn’t want that feeling to end.

You finished off a cracking team try in the corner in front of a packed-out Murrayfield Stadium. Where does that rank amongst the tries you’ve scored in your career?

Ah, it’s probably up there! I scored on my debut against England, but we got a hiding that day so this one felt a bit sweeter. The build-up to that try was just unbelievable! Finn’s miss pass off his bad hand to Huw Jones breaking through and then for us to keep the ball alive, it was just an awesome team try and I was just the guy on the end finishing off the boys’ hard work. We practice these things at training but for it to pay off in a game was amazing. You could see by everyone’s reactions that it was a special try and people are saying that it is the ‘Try of the Tournament’ so far but as I said, I just had to ‘finish the lollipop’ as they say and dive over the line.

We’ve all seem the video of Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw and Huw Jones singing ‘Flower of Scotland’ in the early hours of the morning after the game. What did you do to celebrate? I presume you stayed at hotel, had a cup of tea and an early night?

Absolutely! I was with the wee one and the wife so it was a pretty chilled night…haha! No, I got home at about 5:30 AM so I put in a big shift! I was there when the video was being filmed, I was in the corner somewhere keeping my head down while on the waters and being a responsible adult. The celebrations were pretty good to be honest,: Hoggy was in the DJ booth playing all the tunes and the whole club was bouncing with all the boys having a great night!

“We’re sort of treating this as a semi-final because if we win this weekend then we have a pretty good chance to win the Championship…”

Up next are Ireland in Dublin and if you beat them you keep your title chances alive. Would you say this is your toughest test yet?

It’s going to be a hell of a game! There’s been a lot of speculation about our away form, especially in the 6 Nations. We haven’t won too many games on the road in recent times and coming up against Ireland, who have a very respectable record at the Aviva, this is going to be our toughest test so far. We’re sort of treating this as a semi-final because if we win this weekend then we have a pretty good chance to win the Championship away in Italy the following week. We know that Ireland at home is a different beast to anything we’ve come up against so far in the tournament, but we’ve had a massive week at training and there’s been no complacency which sets us up nicely going into the weekend.

What have the preparations been like ahead of this weekend’s clash and is having a week off a good thing in your opinion?

The week off is always beneficial, especially for the local lads that live in Glasgow and Edinburgh who get to freshen up a little bit. I went back to Saracens and my coach Mark McCall opted to rest me to make sure I was fresh for this weekend’s game. You just want to keep the momentum going and if you’re not playing on the weekend then it kind of slows down a bit but before you know it, you’re back in camp and the boys are really pumped for this Saturday!

Are you guys quietly confident going into the game?

I wouldn’t say confident. You get confidence in the way you train and the way you prepare. Against England, we had a great week and we executed the game plan and it has been pretty similar this week. We’ve trained very well so I guess you can just take confidence in the way you prepare and so far so good but as I said before, it’s a massive challenge and you’ve got to be excited for these things.

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