Waldrom will miss Exeter's 'bunch of misfits'
Thomas Waldrom says the balance of characters in the Exeter squad is the reason they have been so successful.
The 35-year-old former England back row leaves at the end of this season to move back to his native New Zealand.
Since joining in 2014 he has scored 42 tries and was the Premiership’s top try-scorer in 2015 and 2016.
“We’re just a bunch of misfits that enjoy each other’s company,” Waldrom said ahead of his final home game on Saturday against Newcastle.
“Rob [Baxter, Exeter’s director of rugby] finds the right people to fit this environment.
“We’ve got a lot of individuals and a lot of characters, and that’s what you want; everyone just gets on.
“You’re not going to get too big for your boots because you’ll get brought down to the ground very quickly, the changing room definitely does that.”
Exeter’s ability to get something out of players that other clubs have been deemed surplus to requirements has been a massive part of their success.
Waldrom is one of the main drivers behind the ‘Cookie Club’, the regular afternoon tea meet-up the Exeter players have organised in their spare time, which along with their ‘Sandwich Club’ helps bring together a team spirit that many in the squad say is unrivalled in the Premiership.
It is an environment that encourages players to flourish. When Waldrom, who won five caps for England between 2012 and 2013, left Leicester four years ago aged 31, many felt his best days were behind him, but he became one of the league’s biggest attacking threats.
It is not just Waldrom – winger Olly Woodburn went from making up the numbers at Bath to being one of the most feared wingers in the league, scoring 10 tries last season and eight this term.
Meanwhile, the likes of Don Armand, Tomas Francis, Harry Williams and Alec Hepburn have all come from relative obscurity to become full internationals.
“To sell the club to me, Rob was saying they’ve got a lot of young guys and they just need that bit of experience to guide them,” Waldrom told BBC South West.
“Four years later those boys are on fire and we’ve got another young crop coming through who are really good as well.”
All Waldrom wants to do now is end his time with a second successive Premiership title with Exeter’s ‘bunch of misfits’.