Being born in Bulgaria is not the most well-trodden path of Super League players, but Ethan Havard’s journey to the top has been more conventional since.
Havard’s parents worked in Sofia at the time of his birth, but after moving back to England initially in Bath, the family settled in dad Kieron’s hometown of Wigan. From then it was a more traditional route to professional rugby league, starting at five years old in the Wigan St Pat’s team coached by his father.
By the time he was 15, Havard was in the Warriors’ scholarship system, winning the under-16s Player of the Year in 2017. By 2019 he had his first academy Grand Final win under his belt and, standing at 6ft 3, was making his Super League debut in a comprehensive home defeat of Wakefield last July.
Since then he has impressed the club’s coaching staff to the extent that he is the first name most talk about when you ask about the next youngster coming off the club’s prolific conveyor belt of talent. Certainly head coach Adrian Lam – who handed him the number 30 shirt this season – believes he can have a future that will match his towering frame.
“He’s a chance of playing in round one against Warrington – that speaks volumes about him and his development,” Lam said. “He’s a big body, a tough kid and we’ve watched and appreciated how he’s grown in the last six months.
“I like his work ethic – he’s got a great mentality and he’s one of those guys that exactly fits the mould of a Wigan player. He’s very disciplined, very professional and he played 80 minutes in the academy Grand Final against St Helens last year.
“Off the field he’s a great lad – a bit quiet and a bit serious at times, but he’s a great listener. We’ve tipped him up on a few areas he needs to improve on and he’s picked it up real quickly in the off-season.”
Havard isn’t the only youngster Lam is excited about for 2020 and beyond, reeling off a list of names to keep an eye on this year.
“There’s Joe Shorrocks, a 13 who played against Leigh last week, he’s got a big future ahead of him, and Harry Smith a young half-back who you’ll see a fair bit of in the first team this year,” Lam explained.
“There’s another younger one coming through by the name of Harry Rushton, James McDonnell is another talent, and one of our new recruits from London, Kai Pearce-Paul. I’m a big fan of his and think he will play a big role in the Wigan side over the next five years and am looking forward to trying and getting him involved this year. “
Name: Ethan Havard
Club: Wigan Warriors
Age: 19 (DOB 26/10/2000)
Amateur Club: Wigan St Pats
First team appearances: 1