TOMMY Seymour knows that his selection for a first Six Nations start could be a mixed blessing.
The Glasgow Warriors wing feels pleased and privileged to be chosen but, at the same time, knows that Sean Maitland, the injured team-mate he has replaced, is a big loss.
Maitland came off after half an hour of Sunday’s defeat by Ireland and later learned his knee injury has ruled him out of the Six Nations. Seymour was concerned for his colleague, and knew there was a diplomatic way of expressing that concern.
“After the game, I didn’t get straight on to the phone to him – you kind of look like a hungry piranha,” he said yesterday.
“But I made sure I texted him to see how he was. It’s incredibly disappointing for him, because he was great in the autumn. He’s a consistent performer for Scotland.
“It puts more pressure on me to go out and do him justice. I’m under no illusions – had he been fit, he would have been playing this weekend. We are competing in a squad and we want players of his calibre – he’s a Lion – available to compete and try to win things.”
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, 25-year-old Seymour has five caps to his name already, but knows that his Six Nations debut will represent a new stage in his career. “In a way, it is like a second debut, because it’s the first major tournament I’ve competed in for Scotland. It has probably become a bit of a cliché about players who come into the Six Nations but, when you’re a youngster and into rugby, this is the tournament you avidly watch – and imagine yourself playing in one day. Hopefully, it’s something I’ll remember forever.”
Having last turned out for Glasgow on Boxing Day, and played a half for Stirling a couple of weeks back, Seymour is short of match practice.
His English opposite number, Jonny May, looked like sharing Maitland’s fate and being ruled out of tomorrow’s game after breaking his nose in last week’s defeat by France. But he has been passed fit, and the Scot laughed when asked how he intended to target his opponent.
“Am I gonna squeeze it?” he said. “I’m certainly not going to say that in a press interview beforehand!
“Listen, he’s been cleared to play. I’m not going to go out with the sole intention of running at his nose.
“He’s a hard lad, he runs hard lines, so he won’t be thinking about it. And it certainly won’t be my focus on Saturday, Jonny May’s nose.”