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'Maybe it is possible': Hurricanes star emerges as potential RWC 'bolter'

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

By his own admission, Cam Roigard is coming off his “best performance in the Canes jersey” after the halfback scored a double in the 34-17 win over the Waratahs on Friday.

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Rugby fans at Wellington’s Sky Stadium witnessed a coming of age performance from the rising star, who has emerged as genuine All Blacks bolter ahead of this year’s World Cup.

Roigard has followed in the footsteps of a Super Rugby giant this season, after the Hurricanes’ most-capped player TJ Perenara ruptured his Achilles during the All Blacks’ end-of-season tour.

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While there will never be another TJ Perenara, Roigard has taken his opportunity to star in the No. 9 jersey with both hands in Super Rugby Pacific – and there could be more to come.

Following a strong start to this year’s Super Rugby campaign, Roigard said he’s thought about the possibility of pushing onto higher honours with 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 told RugbyPass.

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

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“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.

“At the moment I’m just trying to play as well as I can for the Canes and hopefully win our Super Rugby title. That’s all I’m focused on at the moment and whatever happens from there, whatever happens, happens.”

Roigard represented New Zealand for the first time last year after being named in the All Blacks XV’s historic matchday squad to play Ireland A at RDS Arena.

Named alongside fellow Hurricanes Tevita Mafileo, Ruben Love and TJ Perenara, the halfback came off the bench in the No. 21 jersey during the emphatic 47-19 win.

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Sharing the moment with his followers on Instagram, Roigard described the match as a “special night.”

Roigard was a talented player at St Peter’s School in Cambridge, running out for about 50 games for the First XV over three years – but he didn’t play New Zealand Schoolboys or for the Baby Blacks.

The New Zealand Under-20s had a camp, but their campaign was called off due to the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.

“It sort of left a bit of the unknown as to where I was ranked or placed alongside the other young nines,” he added.

“As we know, the likes of Cortez (Ratima) and Taufa (Funaki) at the Blues, they’re all my age as well so you don’t really know where you’re sat.

“It was definitely an opportunity to just work out, put your head down and once you do get your opportunity, just try to make the most of it.”

Roigard has travelled quite a unique path en route to Super Rugby honours, having played all around the North Island at various levels of the game.

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After playing his high school rugby in Waikato, the halfback moved north to join the Counties Manukau Academy – and later played for them at NPC level.

Now, having moved south to the capital, Roigard has made the No. 9 jersey his own in the absence of Perenara.

“Any minutes at this level are super valuable, and I’ve had a couple of consistent starts now getting some good minutes, 50 minutes every game.

“Being able to build combinations with the likes of Jordie (Barrett) at 12 and BC (Brett Cameron) at 10.

“My confidence has been building every week and the trust from the other players that if I pull trigger, have a run or something, they’ll be on my shoulder or be able to react to me.

“(My) confidence has definitely been building.

“Yeah I’d say it probably was in terms of performance,” he said after the win over the Waratahs.

“The boys, or the forwards in particular having a good set-piece and putting pressure on at their lineout gave us really good go forward ball which is perfect for a nine.

“I was able to… play the rugby that I enjoy playing.

“I’d say it probably was my best performance in the Canes jersey so far.”

The Hurricanes started their season with two solid wins over the Reds and Rebels across the ditch, but were handed a wake up call in their first New Zealand derby of the year.

Playing against Beauden Barrett’s Blues, the Canes fought valiantly but ultimately lost the battle by six points.

But they bounced back against the Tahs, and they’ll be looking to keep the good times rolling into Round Five against Moana Pasifika.

The Hurricanes will travel north to Auckland to play Moana at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday at 7:05pm NZT.

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