I know from past experiences the Chiefs are a very strong side
Thomas Waldrom says he is "excited" by the challenge that lies ahead after he sealed a move to the Exeter Chiefs from Premiership rivals Leicester Tigers.
The 30-year-old England international will join the Devon club from the start of next season after recently agreeing a three-year contract with the Chiefs.
Waldrom's switch to the Westcountry will bring to an end a successful four-year stint at Welford Road for the powerful back row forward. Not only has he won five caps for England during his time in the East Midlands, but he has also claimed a Premiership title, an LV= Cup winners' medal, and was crowned the Rugby Players' Association Player of the Year in 2011.
Born in Lower Hutt in New Zealand, Waldrom spent his early playing days featuring back home for provincial clubs Wellington and Hawke's Bay before he moved on to Super Rugby sides Hurricanes and Crusaders.
The Tigers clearly liked what they saw of Waldrom, who joined them in 2010. Quickly he installed himself as not only a fans' favourite, but also an integral part of the Leicester back row where he featured in all three positions.
To date, Waldrom has amassed 105 appearances for the club and scored 21 tries in the process.
His arrival at Sandy Park is seen as a key indicator of Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter looking to bring in proven international talent to go alongside the ever-developing Exeter squad.
"I'm excited by the move because it's a fresh challenge for me," said Waldrom.
"I've had four fantastic years at Leicester and experienced so many high points with them. A lot of what I have achieved in the game has come from my time playing there, so I owe them and the supporters an awful lot."
"Also I've made a lot of good mates who I will no doubt stay in touch with, but when I spoke to Rob [Baxter] I liked what he had to say about the club, the direction it was heading and the plans for the future."
"I know from past experiences and playing against them that the Chiefs are a very strong side, especially down at Sandy Park, and that they have a very good culture amongst their squad. I think it will be good to be part of all of that and hopefully I can add something of my own to the mix."
Having been given a full briefing of the club's plans by Baxter himself, Waldrom admitted he had done some of his own homework on his new team, including sounding out current Chiefs Jason Shoemark and Hoani Tui for a bit more of an insight.
"They both spoke very highly of the club and said it was a great place to play rugby," he continued. "Obviously Rob outlined the future plans, including the work on the stadium, so it's all happening and it would be nice to be part of that progress."
With the Chiefs already blessed with an abundance of talent in the back row, Waldrom is well aware the battle for a place in the squad will be tough.
"It's kind of what you expect at top clubs," he added. "Exeter already have some great players in the back row, people like Tom Johnson who I know from the England set-up, so of course it will be a battle for places."
"My initial aim will be to settle in as best I can, train hard during pre-season and just look to earn the respect of those around me. After that we'll see what happens and try and move the club forward as best you can."
Waldrom is Baxter's first major capture for the 2014/15 season, although the Chiefs boss has hinted that a number of other signings are in the pipeline and could well be putting pen to paper shortly.