Scotland coach defends ‘kilted Kiwi’

Thu, 24 Jan 2013 15:25
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Scott Johnson has stressed there was "no tokenism" about the selection of New Zealand-born wing Sean Maitland in his Six Nations squad.

Interim Scotland coach Scott Johnson has stressed there was "no tokenism" about the selection of New Zealand-born wing Sean Maitland in his Six Nations squad.

Johnson’s inclusion of Maitland in his maiden squad has come under criticism after the former Crusaders wing had played only a handful of matches for Glasgow Warriors since arriving in Scotland in October.

The 24-year-old will become the latest so-called "kilted Kiwi" when he makes his Scottish debut, following in the footsteps of players like Sean Lineen and brothers John and Martin Leslie.

Speaking at the Six Nations launch in London on Wednesday, Johnson highlighted Maitland's Scottish heritage and said he had been selected on merit.

"When I spoke to his dad, he was standing in his kilt in New Zealand,” said Australian-born Johnson, who previously coached Wales and the USA.

"Everyone thinks it's the grandfather rule that Sean comes under.

"Sean's father is Scottish and he has great pride in being a Scotsman. Sean used to be woken up as a kid to watch Scotland in the Five Nations, as it was.

"This kid is of proud Scottish heritage. This is not tokenism and he would be offended if anyone questioned that and so would his dad and his grandparents as well.

"He is a real proud Scotsman and he is there for the right reasons and that is why we value him as a member of this team."

Scotland kick-off their Six Nations campaign against England at Twickenham next Saturday, where they have not won since 1983. Johnson, though, feels his new-look squad will not be bogged down by history.

"That is news to me. A lot of these players probably haven't been there before. We have to create our own history and disregard what has occurred in the past," Johnson said.

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