But a rethink last year - Maitland qualifies for Scotland through his Glaswegian grandparents - has seen the former Kiwi completely rethink his international priorities.
Maitland will go head-to-head against the giant Welsh pairing of George North and Alex Cuthbert in this weekend's RBS 6 Nations, knowing an impressive showing in front of the watching Lions boss Warren Gatland could see him earn a surprise call-up for Australia.
"It's (the Lions tour) one of my goals, for sure," said Maitland, who was speaking to Wales Online.
"You've just got to play well for your country and if it happens then it happens. We've got to keep winning, and then hopefully a few of the boys in the team will get noticed by Gatland. But, yeah, it's definitely a goal.
"I'm not going to lie. You want to make the All Blacks. As a little kid playing rugby and growing up in New Zealand, that's what you dream about - but it just wasn't meant to be.
"But, it's funny, one door closes and another one opens.
"There are a lot of talented players, especially in the back three, in New Zealand.
"Things weren't going to plan last year, so I talked to a few people - my family, my agent - and we drew a line in the sand and said it was the right time to move and hopefully have an opportunity to play for Scotland.
"I could have waited for another year. I could have given it another crack in Super Rugby.
"But I thought it was the best move for me and I'm happy to say it has paid off.
"But this is just the start of it. I still want to prove myself a bit more."