Cycling is a passion for Altum lower South Island area
sales manager Simon Croom. Photo from Pascal Sutherland
When Simon Croom swapped his rugby jersey for cycle
shorts, little did he know where it would lead.
A head injury led the Englishman to making the transition
from rugby to cycling, when medical professionals advised he
would be ''crazy'' if he played rugby again, and he has since
cycled alongside some of the stars of international cycling.
Mr Croom, who initially came to New Zealand in 2003 to look
at New Zealand's dairy farming systems and play some rugby,
is lower South Island area sales manager for fertiliser and
animal-nutrition company Altum.
From a farming background in the UK, he travelled to New
Zealand after completing an agriculture degree with honours.
Dairy farming in New Zealand was of interest to him and being
able to play rugby as well was a ''win-win'' situation.
After a trip to Sydney to watch England beat Australia in the
final of the Rugby World Cup, his arm was twisted to play
another season, based in northern Southland.
But in that second season, he did not play many games, after
a ''fairly hard knock'' which left him with a broken
cheekbone, broken nose and bruising on the brain.
The medical advice, which suggested curtailing his rugby
career, was ''definitely a hard moment''. About 18 months
later, he was feeling well and decided to play ''a bit of a
game'', but as soon as he took the first knock, after which
he could feel his brain shaking like jelly, he knew he had to
get into something else. Initially keen to give triathlon ''a
bit of a nudge'', Mr Croom met former Tour of Southland
winner Doug Bath who helped get him a bike and taught him to
It was Mr Bath who suggested the cycling newcomer have a go
in the Tour of Southland. While Mr Croom thought it might be
something that he could tackle in a couple of years, Mr Bath
said to do it in nine months.
Nine months later, after doing ''some very, very big miles on
the bike every day'', Mr Croom lined up for the 50th
anniversary Tour of Southland in 2006. It was six days of
racing, in which his legs were ''screaming and burning''. It
was a big week and while there were days that felt like it
would never end, once it got to the last couple of days, it
He caught the cycling bug and returned home for a couple of
weeks to compete in the Kings of Wessex race.
Mr Croom won the event, which was ''fantastic'' and opened
doors for him in the UK.
He took four months off work the following year and raced in
some of the premier races in the UK.
He returned to the UK the following season as well and has
since completed another three Tour of Southland events.
Mr Croom recently competed in his first half Ironman, the
Lake Wanaka Half.
He finished second in the male 30-34 years section and eighth
He has been with Altum for more than eight years. He manages
the Otago and Southland area with a team of four staff. He
enjoyed working in such a good agricultural industry in which
those involved were so passionate.
Based in Invercargill, he was grateful Altum allowed him
unpaid leave to pursue sport.
Farming remained a passion and he enjoyed nothing better than
getting out on farms and talking to farmers about what they
did and their challenges.
His clients all had different challenges and properties,
which kept the job interesting.
Mr Croom was particularly impressed by New Zealand's dairy
industry and he liked how the majority of milk was supplied
to a co-operative where the aim was about delivering returns
to shareholders, the farmers.
Citing the injection of money into towns, he said it was
imperative the farming industry in New Zealand survived. He
believed good communication between regulators and farmers
Mr Croom loved living in Southland, saying people had been so
welcoming and he had made some very good friends.
He recently got engaged and had no plans to return to the UK.
''I'm here for good. I like New Zealand full stop,'' he said.