SEAN Maitland has admitted that he faces a real fight to get back into the Glasgow starting line-up.
The Scotland and British & Irish Lions wing missed Glasgow’s opening three fixtures of the Guinness Pro12 campaign while recovering from an Achilles strain that followed his part in the gruelling four-game Scotland tour during the summer.
The 26-year-old has been in almost constant action since he arrived at Scotstoun in 2012 on a three-year deal, with Lions service filling the usual summer sabbatical in 2013 following an impressive debut campaign for Scotland in the Six Nations Championship earlier that year.
But after recovering from his Achilles problem there was to be more frustration for the former Crusaders star when, after recording a superb solo 60-metre try in his return for the Glasgow ‘A’ team in their victory over their Edinburgh counterparts at Bridgehaugh last month, Maitland suffered a dead leg.
That meant the Scotland international missed out on Warriors’ home game with Connacht last Friday. The fit-again winger says he is ready to make Sunday’s trip to Treviso but is worried that such has been the form of the Glasgow backs he may find it hard to force his way into the starting XV.
“The back three has been on fire as you saw last week against Connacht, with Hoggy [Stuart Hogg] getting a couple of tries and DTH [van der Merwe] also scoring a corker and the way the boys have been playing and with the competition for places in the backs it is going to be tough to get back in,” admitted Maitland.
“If you look at the week before then Tommy Seymour has scored a great try against the Dragons and the game before that it was Sean Lamont at Cardiff. So whoever is coming in on either wing is really playing his part while at 15 you have Pete Murchie and Hoggy both being outstanding. But that is the decision for [coach] Gregor [Townsend] to make.”
However with Townsend committed to adopting a rotation policy that utilises the full depth of his squad, the opportunity to blood Maitland against a Treviso side who have failed to win any of their opening four outings would seem tailor made.
“I feel good now and I am ready for the Treviso game, if selected, and just desperate to play,” said Maitland.
“I really needed the ‘A’ game just to put my hand up and get back in the mix for selection and that is what made the blow to the knee all the more frustrating.
“Obviously I had the Achilles problem that was ongoing and then I came back at Bridgehaugh and picked up the dead leg and that was really annoying, particularly so since I scored one of the best tries of my career in the Edinburgh ‘A’ game.”
He added: “But I have pretty much played back-to-back for the last three years and since I joined Glasgow. I was with the Lions last summer and then Scotland this summer. It all does take its toll on the body and I guess eventually it was telling me it needed a break.
“I did the rehab and the try I got in the ‘A’ game was the real proof that all was well and then you have the frustration of the bang on the knee and then I miss the Connacht game.
“But that is rugby for you and the main thing is that the Treviso game is just the fifth game of the season and there is still an awful lot of rugby to play.”
Despite his frustration Maitland has been mightily impressed with Warriors’ winning start to the new campaign which sees them level on points with Pro12 leaders Ospreys.
“While there is nothing harder than watching your team playing like Glasgow have been and kicking your heels knowing there is little you can do about it, I have to admit the boys have been on fire,” said Maitland.