AN AVIVA Premiership Rugby star in the mould of Dean Richards and Zinzan Brooke has today been named Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month for January.
Thomas Waldrom enjoyed an incredible month helping Exeter Chiefs into the quarter finals of the European Rugby Champions Cup and into the top two of Aviva Premiership Rugby.
"This month’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month is a try-poacher of the highest quality. With his low centre of gravity, fast feet and finishing ability you are probably expecting to see a back three player," said BT Sport analyst and former England star Austin Healey.
"But no; Thomas the tank Waldrom is becoming a bit of a cult figure, not only in Exeter but around the league."
Waldrom leads the Aviva Premiership Rugby try-scoring charts this season with seven, but Healey believes it is unfair on the No 8 just to focus on the number of times he crosses the whitewash.
Healey added: "Just to mention his try-scoring is wrong as he carries extremely well, offloads with great timing and generally reads the game to find himself in the right position time and time again. He reminds me of a modern day Dean Richards mixed with a bit of Zinzan Brooke!
"He could well be one of the players that carry Exeter Chiefs to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final."
Rugby fans also had their say on who deserved to win the coveted Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month Award, as they became the 10th Judge. Joining the panel of nine judges, fans voted for the player who had impressed them the most during the month of January.
Each month, one lucky fan who votes as a 10th Judge will be selected at random to win four tickets to an Aviva Premiership Rugby game of their choice.
Waldrom – who was also shortlisted in December – was involved in a three-way battle for the title beating Danny Cipriani and his team-mate James Short in the voting.
As well as the fans' vote, Waldrom was voted for by a panel of media professionals – Nick Mullins (BT Sport), Alastair Eykyn (BT Sport), Mick Cleary (The Daily Telegraph), Steve James (The Sunday Telegraph), Sarah Mockford (Rugby World), Jill Douglas (ITV Sport), Chris Jones (BBC 5 Live), David Rogers (Getty Images) and Ben Coles (Planet Rugby). The panel was chaired by Paul Morgan, Premiership Rugby's Communications Director.
Waldrom wins a trophy and £250 to donate to a charity of his choice.
Winners in the 2015-16 season
October – Nick Evans (Harlequins)
November – Nathan Hughes (Wasps)
December – Maro Itoje (Saracens)
January – Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
Winners in the 2014-15 season
September – Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
October – Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby)
November – Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
December – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
January – Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
February – Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
March – Elliot Daly (Wasps)
April – Joe Simpson (Wasps)
Winners in the 2013-14 season
September – Jacques Burger (Saracens)
October – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
November – George Ford (Bath Rugby)
December – Nick Easter (Harlequins)
January – Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
February – Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers)
March – Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
April – Chris Ashton (Saracens)