Cape Town - The Wellington Lions have announced that experienced Exeter
Chiefs and former England back-rower Thomas Waldrom will join them in
Wellington Lions coach Chris Gibbes confirmed on Monday that Waldrom
would return to New Zealand following the completion of the Exeter
Chiefs season to play in the Mitre 10 Cup.
Gibbes felt Waldrom's experience would be invaluable for the squad as it prepares to return to the Mitre 10 Cup premiership.
"The game is getting young and signing Thomas will provide us with
not only what he brings on the field but his experience off it as a
seasoned professional and that's exactly what he is," he told Wellington
Lions' official website.
"That was part of the attraction of bringing a guy like Thomas into our programme."
Waldrom, 34, made 80 appearances for the Wellington Lions before his
move to the United Kingdom where he was a big part of the Leicester
Tigers success for four seasons while he was also caped four times with
England. He has spent the past four seasons playing for the Exeter
Gibbes said Waldrom was a "well known icon" of Wellington and New Zealand rugby who has gone overseas and proven himself.
"He wants to come home and play for Wellington and put something back
to a place where he started. His form and his game is still there and
we are excited to have a guy like that coming back into our programme,"
Waldrom believed it was the right time for his family to move back to
New Zealand and to get his two young boys into the New Zealand way of
"I will hold Exeter as a special place in my heart I have had a great
time here, all the coaches and players are great I can’t express how
hard it was to leave but family had to come first," he said.
"I will enjoy my last few months with them before returning home."
Waldrom still remembered when he put his first Lions jersey on in 2000.
"To be able to put it back on in 2018 will mean as much to me as it did to me then," he revealed.
"It would be awesome to have my two boys watching me where I first started my professional career.
"I have had a lot of great memories when I was with the Lions playing
with so many of the great players that have worn the Wellington Lions
"Coming back to where it has all started for me is going to be
special and a challenge, one that I’m looking forward to. I will be able
to pass on a lot of the experience I have built up while I have been
away to the young lads."