- Ethan Roots made his debut for England, who began the Six Nations with a win
- The New Zealand-born star was surprised by his mother on the day of the game
- Now, he is targeting more success against Wales in England’s game this weekend
As far as debuts go, Ethan Roots could not have asked for much more from his first England cap. A winning start, a man-of-the-match award, and, to top it off, a surprise visit from mum Cara.
Despite living 11,000 miles away in New Zealand, Mrs Roots kept her arrival a secret until she arrived in Rome.
Roots was born and raised in Auckland by his mother, who has Maori heritage, and his father, who was adopted in Reading.
‘My dad is back in Auckland, but my mum flew out and surprised me,’ said the flanker (below), who averaged seven metres per carry. ‘It was the first time I have seen her in quite a while. That was pretty special.
‘I don’t know how she planned it all. My partner landed at the same time. It was a nice surprise.’
England star Ethan Roots is targeting success against Wales in the Six Nations this weekend
Roots had a debut to remember for England against Italy, helping his side to a 27-24 victory
The flanker, pictured with his team-mates, was surprised by his family on the day of the game
Roots will be hopeful of keeping the No 6 jersey for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales. In a team lacking tackle-breaking carriers, he stepped up as England’s best runner, compensating for the absence of Ollie Lawrence and Manu Tuilagi.
‘Of course you are going to be nervous about a debut,’ said Roots. ‘We really wanted to kick the tournament off with a win. I had a lot of support. All the boys were really good, that eased me a bit.
‘I got some messages from my family back in New Zealand, my partner and boys, my brother, all my family pretty much. I was emotional going into it. They are a lot of the reasons why I play and have done so well, because I have to support them.
‘Energising other people and being vocal is something I am good at. Lots of people told me I needed to find my voice and I tried to do that. It was a dream result and coming away with man of the match is special.’
Roots’ impressive debut capped off a remarkable rise. Five years ago, he was working on a building site in north Auckland. He tried cage fighting and Brazilian jiu-jitsu but got his break when he moved to Europe in 2021.
He spent two years with the Ospreys before joining Exeter last summer, emerging as a key figure. Now he has set his sights on Twickenham.
Roots has become an important player at Exeter having joined them from Ospreys last summer
The weekend’s game against Wales would be his first Test at Twickenham should he be picked
‘I know a lot of those boys in Wales and it would be great to have a hit-out against them,’ he said. ‘It is a big occasion and it would be my first Test at Twickenham, so I would be really excited.’
England flanker Lewis Ludlam has confirmed he will leave Northampton at the end of the season, with a move to French side Toulon expected.
Wales should be boosted by the return of Will Rowlands for Saturday’s match after the lock joined up with Warren Gatland’s squad.