Ethan Roots eyeing Wales after dream start to England career… with the flanker starring in his side’s opening Six Nations game against Italy

  • Ethan Roots made his debut for England, who started the Six Nations series with a win
  • The New Zealand star was surprised by his mother on the day of the match
  • Now he is aiming for more success against Wales in England’s game this weekend

In terms of debut, Ethan Roots couldn’t 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 to 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 meters per carry. ‘It was the first time I’d seen her in a while. It was quite special.

‘I don’t know how she planned all this. My partner landed at the same time. It was a nice surprise.’

England star Ethan Roots is aiming for success against Wales in the Six Nations series this weekend

England star Ethan Roots is aiming for success against Wales in the Six Nations series this weekend

Roots had a debut to remember for England against Italy, helping his side to a 27-24 victory.

Roots had a debut to remember for England against Italy, helping his side to a 27-24 victory.

The winger, pictured with his teammates, was surprised by his family on the day of the match

The winger, pictured with his teammates, was surprised by his family on the day of the match

Roots will be hopeful of winning the no. 6 jersey for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales. In a team lacking take-break carriers, he has stepped up as England’s best runner, compensating for the absence of Ollie Lawrence and Manu Tuilagi.

“Obviously you’re going to be nervous about a debut,” says Roots. ‘We really wanted to kick off the tournament with a win. I had a lot of support. All the boys were very good, that relieved me a little.

‘I got a few messages from my family back in New Zealand, my partner and sons, my brother, my whole family pretty much. I was emotional going into it. They are a lot of the reason I play and have done so well because I have to support them.

‘Energizing other people and being vocal is something I’m good at. Many people told me I needed to find my voice and I tried to do that. It was a dream result and to come away from the game with a man is special.’

Roots’ impressive debut capped a remarkable rise. Five years ago he was working on a construction 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 and emerging as a key figure. Now he has set his sights on Twickenham.

Roots has become a key player at Exeter after joining them from Ospreys last summer

Roots has become a key player at Exeter after joining them from Ospreys last summer

The game against Wales would be his first test at Twickenham, should be selected for the game on Saturday

The game against Wales would be his first test at Twickenham, should be selected for the game on Saturday

“I know a lot of those boys in Wales and it would be great to have a knock against them,” he said. “It’s a big occasion and it will be my first Test at Twickenham so I’ll be really excited.”

England winger 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 game after the lock joined Warren Gatland’s side.