EIGHT years after Dave Ewers lost almost everything at the hands of Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean forward knows how lucky he is to even be talked of as a possible England international.
After just six starts in the Aviva Premiership, including last week’s man-of-the-match display in Exeter’s win at Gloucester, Ewers, 22, is already being seen as a serious contender by England coach, Stuart Lancaster.
Ewers, his sister and parents Peter and Teresa became victims of Mugabe’s henchmen in Zimbabwe when white farmers were forced to flee as a result of violent land reforms.
“In some respects we were lucky,” said Dave. “We managed to leave without anyone getting hurt or without any violence at all. Others were not so fortunate.
“We lost the farms and Dad decided we should come to England and join his parents, who lived in Ivybridge. He sold the house in Mutare, which gave us something but it did not add up to much in English terms.
“Everything was so different and I missed my friends and Africa. It was exciting at first but then the reality of what had happened to us hit hard.
“I go through spells when I feel incredibly bitter about it all but I know I have to accept it and put it to bed. Otherwise it would eat me up.”
Peter found a job with Calor and Teresa as a secretary at Ivybridge School, where Dave studied. Luckily for him, the school then became an academy for Exeter, who had designs on becoming a Premier club.
After a frustrating season last year spent partly on loan at Cornish Pirates, partly injured – he was out for over three months with a hamstring injury – and partly behind ‘Mr Exeter’, No 8 Richard Baxter, Ewers has seized his chance this season following Baxter’s retirement.
Lancaster was full of praise for Ewers, saying: “He has played well in two games. We need a consistency in order to make changes. But when players start making that consistency in the Premiership and in Europe over the next two weeks, it is hard to ignore them really.”
It has all happened so rapidly for him that Ewers is finding it hard to take in. “It was nice to hear that Stuart Lancaster was talking about me but I don’t think I’m ready for that yet and I’m not even thinking about Test rugby, let alone who I could play for,” he said.
“Last week I faced Ben Morgan and Matt Kvesic in the Gloucester back row and on Sunday the Lions’ captain, Sam Warburton, so it’s a wonderful test for me and I’m enjoying every minute of it.Advertisement
“I’ve been given a second chance here in England, I’ve been lucky and I’ll do everything I can to take it, not just for me but for my parents as well. They are very special people. I hope my rugby career can make us all a bit happier.”