Zimbabwe-born Dave Ewers insists he intends to make the most of his final months at Gallagher Premiership side Exeter Chiefs.
The 32-year-old forward is set to bring the curtain down on his 14-year stint with the Devonians at the end of the season, before heading across the Irish Sea to take up a new challenge with Ulster in the United Rugby Championship.
A pivotal figure in the rise of the Chiefs in recent years, Ewers has been front and central for Rob Baxter’s side as they have established themselves as a force not only within the English game, but across Europe as well.
Ewers is one of a number of the club’s frontline stars who are set for pastures new next season, but before then he aims to make his final year in Exeter colours one to remember.
“I think I would have struggled leaving knowing others were still going to be here,” he said. “When the day comes, I think it’s going to be devastating to go our separate ways. As a group we have been through so much together over the years but, at the same time, it just highlights for me how special we’ve got to try and make these next couple of months.”
With one trophy already in the bag following last weekend’s Premiership Rugby Cup triumph over London Irish, the Chiefs are still well placed to attack both the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup over these final weeks.
“It’s exciting to see where we are as a team and as a club, especially being involved in every competition,” he added. “The boys did class last weekend and it was awesome to see them win. It was a great final, but thankfully we came out on top.
“As I said, it’s exciting to be involved in these last two competitions. Obviously, we have a huge challenge to get into the play-offs in the Premiership and then another huge challenge to overcome Montpellier in Europe. It’s going to be tough, but it will make it all the better.
“It means we can’t afford any complacency, we have to be at our best every week now. In the past we’ve been fortunate to be way ahead in the league and safely in the play-offs, but now we know we have to be at our best and just build the momentum week by week.”
Standing in the way of the Chiefs this weekend will be Westcountry rivals Bath, who despite being bottom of the table, will pose a formidable threat at The Rec.
“We’re expecting a tough game,” warned Ewers. “You only have to look at their team-sheet, they have international names across the board. It’s never an easy game going up there, I’ve had a lot of losses up there over the years, but if we are serious about getting in that top four, we need wins and it starts this weekend.”
Whatever happens over the coming weeks, Ewers can certainly look back on his time with the Chiefs with immense pride and a bucket load of memories, both on and off the field.
Having been born and raised in Zimbabwe, a teenage Ewers ended up in Devon after he and his family were forced to flee their homeland when Robert Mugabe’s land reforms saw their farm seized. It was an experience that helped shaped the man-mountain forward, but equally makes him a little nervous ahead of his move to Ulster.
“Everything that happened growing up wasn’t ideal, moving across from Zimbabwe and stuff,” he says. “But Exeter and rugby has become my home and it’ll always hold a really special place in my heart. It’s definitely something I want to portray in the way I play, to show that. I know how much I struggled moving across and then Exeter and the game of rugby gave me that sense of being part of something again and feeling at home. So it’s going to be a huge challenge for me moving away but it is something that I need to make the most of and enjoy every second I have.
“Equally, I’ve been so blessed to be involved here. It’s exciting to know it’s not over yet, we’ve got all these games coming up, so hopefully we can make it a special year.”