New Zealander Ethan Roots described playing in the Gallagher Premiership as a life-long dream having arrived at Exeter Chiefs during the summer of 2023. The all-action back-row forward is joined from United Rugby Championship outfit, Ospreys Rugby.
Roots joined the Welsh region in March 2021 from the Crusaders and went on to cement himself as a physical on-field force for the Welsh region.
After establishing himself in the East Coast Bays Prem side, the next step up the ladder was to convince Mitre 10 Cup side North Harbour that he was worth a punt.
In his first season in the Prem side, they got to the final but lost it in the final few minutes. To pile on the misery, Roots’ coach then told him he had missed out on a contract with Harbour straight after the match. The following year, Roots was part of the side that went back and won the final, which resulted in North Harbour giving him a shot.
Then things really started to happen. After just five games with Harbour, three of New Zealand’s four Super Rugby franchises – the Crusaders, Chiefs and the Hurricanes – had put contract offers in front of him. But it wasn’t a difficult decision. As soon as the call came from Crusaders boss Scott Robertson, Roots said yes as fast as he could.
Suddenly he was sharing a dressing room with some of the best players in the world; All Blacks Scott Barrett, Joe Moody, Luke Romano, Codie Taylor, George Bridge, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Richie Mo’unga and Sevu Reece, to name a few.
Then came the move to the Ospreys. Head coach Toby Booth had tried to sign Roots at the start of the season, but the timing wasn’t right. Roots’ first child had just arrived and he didn’t feel like he could leave. However, when the chance to come on loan arose later in the year, he went for it.
Having made an impression during his temporary spell with his abrasive style of play, Roots was offered his permanent deal and, this time, couldn’t say no.
From there, Roots did not look back and his eye-catching displays earned him rave reviews and many admirers, among them Rob Baxter, who moved swiftly to bring the Kiwi to Devon.