France v Scotland: Why Sean Maitland has been left out of Gregor Townsend’s squad
Sean Maitland is missing from the 29-man Scotland squad for Friday night’s Guinness Six Nations match against France.
It has emerged that Gregor Townsend’s side were limited to how many English-based personnel they could pick for the game in Paris under the terms of the player-release deal struck with PRL, the umbrella group that represents England’s top clubs.
It left the Scotland coach with a tough decision to make and he has opted to exclude Maitland.
The Saracens man played at full-back in the record-breaking 52-10 win over Italy at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.
He was replaced after 55 minutes by Jaco van der Walt in a tactical switch that saw Stuart Hogg move from stand-off to full-back, with van der Walt coming on at 10.
Jonny Gray is another notable absentee from the squad to face Italy. The Exeter Chiefs lock forward missed the Italy match with a shoulder injury.
Stand-off Adam Hastings returns to the squad after missing the Italy game through suspension following his red card for Glasgow Warriors against Leinster last month.
Finn Russell is expected to start at 10 in Paris after sitting out the win over the Italians due to a head knock sustained against Ireland the previous week.
Winger Rufus McLean has been called up after scoring an outstanding solo try in Glasgow’s defeat by the Dragons in Cardiff on Sunday. Grant Stewart, the Glasgow hooker, is also included.
A number of other English-based players have dropped out of the squad including Jamie Bhatti, the Bath prop, Cornell du Preez, the Worcester back row forward, Ewan Ashman, the Sale hooker, James Lang, the Harlequins centre, and Duncan Taylor, the Saracens centre.
Scotland were due to travel to the Stade de France last month but the game was postponed following a coronavirus outbreak in Fabien Galthie’s squad.
As this week’s re-arranged date lies outside the international window, the English clubs were under no obligation to make their players available. But a deal was finally concluded on Saturday evening, with the clubs in England understood to have been compensated.
Ally Miller, the Edinburgh back row forward, Damien Hoyland, the Edinburgh back, have also been left out for the France match.
The game in Paris will conclude this season’s Six Nations. France can still win the Championship while Scotland can finish second.
SCOTLAND SQUAD (to play France in Guinness Six Nations in Paris on Friday)
Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), David Cherry (Edinburgh), Alex Craig (Gloucester), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Nick Haining (Edinburgh), Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors), WP Nel (Edinburgh), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs), Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh).
Jamie Dobie (Glasgow Warriors), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Rufus McLean (Glasgow Warriors), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Scott Steele (Harlequins), Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh).