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Six to follow: Crunch time looms for Michael Maltman

All things considered, it would be no great surprise if Michael Maltman had long since retired to a dimly-lit room, wrapped himself in cotton wool and undertaken a lengthy risk assessment before he even considered going out the front door.

Michael Maltman is excited about playing at home  Photograph: Stewart Attwood
Michael Maltman is excited about playing at home Photograph: Stewart Attwood

Having devoted the past two years of his life to his dream of representing Scotland in the Commonwealth Games, you would understand his desire to remove himself from any lines of danger.

Yet last weekend he was out there on the brick-hard Broadwood Stadium pitch, helping Heriot's to a 31-10 victory over Glasgow Hawks that saw the RBS Cup accompany them on their bus trip back to Edinburgh. As a professional sevens player, Maltman was under no obligation to turn out for the Goldenacre side, but the chance of playing alongside his mates on the biggest day of the season was not one he was likely to turn down.

From there it was straight into training with the Scotland squad as they started to crank up their preparations for next weekend's Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens event, the eighth and penultimate stage of the HSBC World Series that will conclude in London a week later. The Scots have had a typically mixed year in the globe-trotting championship that, not unexpectedly, is now led by New Zealand, champions in each of the past three seasons, but Maltman has detected a change of mood as the finishing line comes into sight.

An element of tension, too, for the Glasgow and London tournaments will be the last opportunities he and his fellow players have to show they are worthy of selection for the Commonwealth Games team. The indications are that coach Stevie Gemmell will stick largely with the core of players who have represented Scotland in the world series over the past seven months, but there have also been hints that some full Test players could yet be drafted to bolster the squad's prospects of success on home soil in July.

"I'm not sure of the exact dates, but we are all well aware that the final selection is coming," said Maltman. "Everyone wants to put themselves forward and show what they can do, but you can't do that to the detriment of the team. We play best when we play as seven people working off the same page, and when someone goes off script to try to do something better that's when he negates what we're trying to do.

"There's definitely a lot of speculation around the squad. When we play games of touch rugby things can tend to get a little bit hot and heavy. It sometimes degenerates into heavier hits than you would expect playing touch. People seem to like that physical challenge and I suspect it will be like that for the next month until the team is announced."

So no thoughts of easing off a little? Maybe limiting the danger of having his ambitions shattered by one badly timed tackle?

"You always know that something bad could happen," he said. "It's a possibility, and it could happen at any time, but if you start worrying and try to avoid injuries that's when you're more likely to pick one up. You can't be timid about going into contact because that is when you will hurt yourself.

"These things happen in every sport and it's unfortunate for those affected, but we have a big squad of players and every one of them can step up to the plate if given the chance. Whatever the team is, we will deliver."

For Maltman, there is the added pressure of his domestic situation. His partner is the sprinter Libby Clegg, one of Britain's leading paralympians - she suffers from a degenerative eye condition - who has already been selected for the Scotland team for this year's Games. While she can prepare in the sure and certain knowledge of what she will be doing in July, the cloud of uncertainty still hangs over him.

"She occasionally rubs it in that she's already been selected," said Maltman. "There is a bit of Mickey taking, but I'm very happy that she has been selected. She has worked really hard in her sport and it's nice that it's getting recognised in a big international event. When she began in disability sport it didn't get much attention, but it's great that it gets so much now. She's raring to go."

The Scots have traditionally found some form towards the end of the season and there were indications in the last world series event, in Hong Kong, that the pattern could be repeating itself. After a disappointing opening day, when a loss to Samoa knocked them out of the main Cup competition, they found their feet in the latter stages, beating France (to win the Bowl competition), Argentina and Kenya, all of them higher seeds. "That was a great confidence booster," Maltman said.

Few sportsmen have more exotic schedules than those who ply their trade on the international sevens circuit, jetting from Australia to Dubai to Las Vegas to Hong Kong. Yet the west end of Glasgow holds a particular attraction for Maltman, and he relishes the prospect of playing before a home audience.

He said: "You go all around the world, but it is difficult for family and supporters to come to these events in exotic places and watch. So it's really nice to have a tournament at home, where we can show Scots what we're all about, show the family what we do for a living."

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