Rugby World Cup
Waldrom stunned by England call up
ESPNscrum Staff
September 20, 2011

Thomas Waldrom was taken by surprise when he turned up for training at Leicester on Monday and discovered he had been called up by England.

The Tigers No.8 is en route to his native New Zealand to provide cover for Nick Easter, who is struggling with a back injury and missed Sunday's 41-10 victory over Georgia.

The 28-year-old arrived at Leicester's Oval Park base expecting to take part in a review session of their one-point Aviva Premiership win over Newcastle. But Waldrom was instead told by Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill to get his things packed because he was heading to Dunedin.

"It was a swell feeling and I had to rush home and tell my wife what was happening," Waldrom told the Leicester Mercury. "I am going out as cover so it's difficult to know what might happen. We will just have to wait and see."

Waldrom was a member of England's initial 45-man World Cup training squad but he was hampered by a calf injury and was cut before the August warm-up internationals. The 28-year-old has played in all three of Leicester's Aviva Premiership games and scored a try in the opening-day defeat to Exeter Chiefs.

Waldrom was born in Lower Hutt, near Wellington, and only discovered in March that he qualified for England courtesy of his grandmother. Leicester had signed Waldrom from the Crusaders on the basis he would not be called up for international duty.

His departure weakens Cockerill's back row resources even further. Jordan Crane and Craig Newby are both injured while Tom Croft is in the England squad. The Tigers now have 12 representatives at the World Cup, although Waldrom cannot link up with England until he is officially brought into the squad.

"I am pleased for Thomas but it is far from ideal for us," said Cockerill. "We recruited Thomas because we thought he would have to wait three years before he qualified for England - now this happens. We have just got to crack on and get on with it."

Although England have flown Waldrom out as cover for Easter, manager Martin Johnson is yet to name an official replacement for prop Andrew Sheridan. The Sale loosehead suffered a tournament-ending shoulder injury in England's 13-9 victory over Argentina.

"At this moment in time, he has gone as cover this week and they (England) will make a decision about him after the game at the weekend (versus Romania)," Cockerill added. "They could swap him for (injured) Andrew Sheridan and he wouldn't come back at all. If Easter is fit though, Thomas may come back after the weekend."

Johnson is also having to monitor injuries to prop Matt Stevens (ankle) and wing Chris Ashton (elbow), while captain Lewis Moody only made his comeback from a knee injury against Georgia.

Attack coach Brian Smith announced on Tuesday that wing Mark Cueto will be available for selection against Romania after overcoming a lower back problem. In 2003, England called up Austin Healey and Martyn Wood as injury cover in the same way as Waldrom has been now and both ended up flying home again.

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