Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has spoken of his delight after it was confirmed England international Thomas Waldrom will be joining the club next season.
The 30-year-old forward has put pen to paper on a three-year deal and joins the Chiefs from reigning Aviva Premiership champions Leicester Tigers.
Waldrom is Baxter’s first confirmed new arrival for the 2014/15 season, although the Chiefs head coach has admitted others may soon be following the back-row ace to Sandy Park in the coming weeks ahead.
“Obviously we’re delighted to have signed Thomas on a three-year contract,” said Baxter. “All the time we say we’re looking to enhance and improve the squad and bringing in someone of his calibre and experience certainly does that.
“Thomas, we know, is not only a top quality international player, but he’s vastly experienced and he joins us from what is a very good Leicester Tigers team. Where he plays on the field is a key position in any side, but add into that his versatility and his skill-set and it makes him a very good signing for us.”
As always Baxter has carried out a thorough and detailed check on Waldrom and he admits he likes what he sees from his new recruit.
“We’ve had a good look at him and done some pretty detailed analysis on him,” said the Chiefs coach. “What we’ve seen is that he’s not only a very good rugby player, but he’s playing well and he is someone I know will add real top end quality to the squad.
“As we look to move forward as a club, I think it’s vital that we have players like him coming into the squad. Although he has been around for what seems a very long time, he’s still only 30 and we feel his best years are probably still to come.
“If you look at sides who tend to compete at the top end of tables and in the latter stages of competitions, they normally have a good amount of players in that kind of age range. As I said, we feel he ticks a lot of boxes for us in a lot of different areas and having him join and work with what we feel is a young squad moving forward is just fantastic.”
Baxter continued: “Talking to him he’s genuinely excited about coming here and doing well. He can see that we are an ambitious club, on and off the field, and he wants to be part of that process.
“I’ve no doubt that he will thrive in our environment and that he can play a big role for us over the next few years.”
With Waldrom signed and sealed, plus a large majority of the current Chiefs squad also on board for the foreseeable future, Baxter says the make-up of his team for next season is taking shape nicely.
“We’re looking pretty good at the moment,” he added. “Obviously we’ve just signed Thomas; we’ve managed to get quite a few of the current guys signed up on new deals recently; and we’ve got one or two others in the pipeline that are very close to be sorted.
“Each year we say we’ll look to improve the squad and that’s no different again this year. I’m more than happy with the way things are moving along for next season because I think we’re putting together what will be another very strong and competitive group of players.
“Of course there will be guys who come in and others who go, but often the key part of things like this is keeping hold of your core group. We’re doing that right now and that we’ll put us in a great position to keep moving forward.”
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