Sean Maitland reveals he was hours away from writing Saracens leaving speech before contract call
ean Maitland has revealed he was just two days away from delivering a leavers’ speech when Saracens offered him a new deal to stay in north London.
Scotland wing Maitland had feared his seventh year at Saracens would be his last, revealing to Standard Sport on April 6 that he did not know his plans for next season.
The 34-year-old was on tenterhooks about his future, but was determined to stay with the Men In Black. And on Wednesday, April 26, just two days before the club’s annual leavers’ evening – to toast those players departing that summer – Saracens came good with the offer of a new one-year deal.
Maitland will head into Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership final in top form, having bagged a brace in the 38-15 semi-final win over Northampton. The powerful wing will also take on Sale buoyed by the renewed job security.
“Before the London Irish game, I said to Phil Morrow, ‘Am I preparing a leaving speech for next Friday?’, and he looked at me and said, ‘We have a bit of stuff to sort out’,” said Maitland.
“Then it wasn’t until the next Wednesday, I didn’t hear anything Monday or Tuesday, and Wednesday I was with my son.
“Friday was the leavers’ dinner and I still didn’t know what was happening. I got a call to come in, and was thinking I am going to be told this is my last time here.
“I sat down with Phil and Smally (Mark McCall) and they said, ‘Mate we want to give you another year’. It was special.
“The game has given me so much over the last 15 or 16 years. I was accepting the fact this was my last year and wanted to go out on a high winning the Premiership. But then it’s one more year and the dream keeps going on.”
Maitland narrowly missed out on selection for Scotland’s World Cup squad, despite returning to Gregor Townsend’s Test set-up in the Six Nations.
That World Cup omission will boost Maitland’s availability to Saracens next term, potentially tipping the odds in his favour for the new deal.
“It was lastminute-dot-com again, the last two contracts have been quite similar,” said Maitland.
“As you know the market is probably not the best at the moment, especially for a 34-year-old winger. I’m just so happy because I have a young family and my kids get to stay in the same school and in the same house for another year.
He has shelved that speech for another year.
“To move from this club which I love would have been pretty rubbish! I’m just grateful that I get to be here for another year.”
Rugby director McCall hailed Maitland’s enduring influence on the Saracens set-up.
“He has got an important role from a pure playing point of view, but just as a senior, experienced player, a guy who has played in quite a lot of finals – we do have that throughout our team,” said McCall.
“There were a number of things going on for Sean, in terms of a new deal. From January onwards we’d been communicating with him that if X happened it might be unlikely there would be a contract, but if Y happened we want him to stay. And Y happened.
“It took a long time, it took longer than we would have liked. We want to give players certainty but we kept dialogue with Sean every week about the situation. And we are delighted he is able to stay for another year. So he has shelved that speech for another year.”