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‘Got the talent’: Aaron Smith’s verdict on All Blacks bolter Cam Roigard

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Legendary halfback Aaron Smith has praised the selection of rising star Cam Roigard in the All Blacks’ first squad of the year.

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Roigard was selected as one of three halfbacks for the Rugby Championship alongside Smith and Blues No. 9 Finlay Christie.

The hype surrounding Roigard’s potential as a possible All Blacks bolter escalated at a rapid rate throughout this year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign, but Roigard passed every test.

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After cementing his place in the Hurricanes’ starting side in the absence of TJ Perenara, Roigard – at just 22 years of age – showcased an elite standard of play that’s well beyond his years.

Six-time Super Rugby champion Bryn Hall even compared the Hurricanes star to France captain Antoine Dupont. That’s high praise.

Posing a genuine threat both as a playmaker and a ballcarrier, as All Black Aaron Smith discussed, Roigard has “all the skills” needed to succeed at Test level.

“He fully deserves his opportunity,” Smith said, as reported by Newshub. “He’s had an outstanding season and probably an outstanding last couple of years.

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“This year, him at halfback has been amazing with the Hurricanes, you can’t doubt any of that.

“I hope he just comes in, is himself and plays his game. He’s got the talent, he’s got all the skills.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know him, playing with him and trying to learn some tricks off him as well.”

Roigard’s point of difference is his running game. The Hurricanes scrumhalf has starred in Super Rugby Pacific on the back of some game-changing carries, and crucial tries as well.

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The rising star was named in the All Blacks last weekend for the first time – getting the nod ahead of Chiefs co-captain Brad Weber and Highlanders backup Folau Fakatava.

Following a promising start to the season, Roigard told RugbyPass that he had thought about the possibility of getting called into the All Blacks.

“Purely because of the chat and all that sort of stuff, I wouldn’t be getting this interview if I wasn’t playing alright,” Roigard said.

“Thinking back, Nehe Milner-Skudder, he was a bolter as such so you do sort of start to think that maybe it is possible.

“But I think if you do get caught up in that stuff you probably change the way you play in terms of probably playing a bit selfish.”

The All Blacks begin their Rugby Championship campaign against Los Pumas in Argentina, before returning home to New Zealand where they’ll face the Springboks in Auckland.

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