Thomas Waldrom insists he is 100 per cent committed to England, even if he is still getting to grips with the cream teas and culture in his adopted country.
Waldrom, who was born in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, is poised to win his fourth England cap against Australia on Saturday after switching allegiance from the All Blacks.
England coach Stuart Lancaster has built a culture in the national team based on pride in the jersey and a respect for what the red rose represents. For Waldrom, who is of Maori descent and moved to Leicester in 2010, that has been something of a learning process.
But he maintains his loyalty to the England team has never been in doubt. “Playing my first Test match was probably the highlight of my career. The boys have accepted me really well. They know what I am here for,” he said. “They know I am 100 per cent for England
“Stuart and the coaching staff have spent a lot of time building a team culture. It is about accepting people for who they are. Everyone has different personalities in the team, which you have to embrace and enjoy. I am loving the environment. I get a bit of stick because I don’t come across sounding English. Today’s discussion was whether you put the jam or the cream first on your scones. I said I was more jam and then cream. They said the English way was cream first, so I said I would change to fit in! The boys give me stick for watching Home And Away so I have switched to Coronation Street. I am slowly getting into that sort of stuff!”
Waldrom’s brother, Scott, is a New Zealand Sevens and Maori international and he played for the All Blacks against Munster in 2008. But Waldrom was not on the All Blacks’ radar and moved to Welford Road in 2010, with a stated ambition of serving the three-year residency period and representing England.
In March of last year, he discovered that he qualified automatically through his grandmother, and within six months he was in England’s Rugby World Cup squad.