Thomas Waldrom says he will look to play his part in driving Exeter Chiefs forward after he today agreed terms on a new contract extension with the Aviva Premiership club.
The 33-year-old forward is the latest member of Rob Baxter’s first team squad to commit their future to the Sandy Park outfit, extending his stay in Devon until the end of the 2017/18 season.
Since arriving in the summer of 2014 from Leicester Tigers, England international Waldrom has established himself as key figure within the Chiefs ranks, finishing his two seasons to date as the club’s top try-scorer.
His phenomenal scoring record of 36 tries in just 54 appearances has not only helped to propel the Chiefs to one of the emerging forces within the game, but has made him a firm favourite with the club’s supporters.
Waldrom is the latest in a line of current Exeter players to agree new terms in recent weeks, thus ensuring head coach Baxter is keeping a strong core to his playing group over the next couple of years.
"It was a pretty easy decision to make," said Waldrom. "I want to see where this club can go and I want to be part of this group that are looking to move the club forward.
"Ever since I arrived down here I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it. People say when you go to a different club – and I’ve done that a few times – it’s all about enjoyment in that first year and the challenge is you have to bed in.
"Here, though, it’s like home for me. It felt right from the moment I first spoke to Rob about joining. Meeting him and seeing the passion he has for the club, it rubs off on you. As a player you want to be at a place where they want to achieve things and that’s definitely the case here.
"It’s nice to see the stepping stones that we have made to get here, but now as a group we want to kick on even further and take the club to new places."
Last season the Chiefs enjoyed their best-ever campaign, finishing runners-up in the Premiership to Saracens and reaching the last eight of the European Champions Cup for the first time.
Such form has, quite rightly, raised expectation levels around the Chiefs, but Waldrom believes the club have what it takes to continue their rapid growth within the game.
"We are in new waters again," said Waldrom, who has won four caps for England. "Right now we don’t know what the season will hold, but it’s down to us as players to put in the hard work during pre-season and make sure we get ourselves right for the coming season.
"We don’t have to worry too much about what other teams are doing right now, we just have to worry about ourselves and make sure we get things right."
Whatever the Chiefs have been doing – particularly in the case of the Kiwi-born No.8 – Waldrom doesn’t envisage too much change.
"As I keep telling people, the club have found a role that really suits me," he continued. "That said, it’s nice to know you can’t get comfortable. Here you know you have to be on top of our game all the time and you’ve got to be hungry to succeed. The coaches here bring the best out of you, so you can’t rest and you need to be on your toes no matter what age you are."
Currently Waldrom is working hard to get fighting fit for the campaign, recovering from a knee injury that meant he missed out on featuring in the Premiership Final at Twickenham back in May.
"There are two ways of looking at that," explained Waldrom. "Yes, it was frustrating to be sat on the sidelines and not able to help during the final, but on the bright side I’ve realistically only missed one game. My aim is to be back for that first pre-season game and pushing hard for the new season.
"Someone like Big Dave [Ewers] missed something like 10 games with his injury, so hopefully I can use this time now to come back even stronger than before."
The Chiefs kick-off their pre-season programme with the visit of the Scarlets to Sandy Park on Saturday, August 13 (3pm). A week later fellow Pro12 opposition, Ulster Rugby, arrive in Devon for a similar kick-off, before they conclude things with a trip to the Dragons on Friday, August 26 (7:45pm).