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The All Black Cam Roigard 'tried to mould my game around'

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

As the adage goes, you should never meet your heroes – but Hurricanes halfback Cam Roigard would have to disagree.

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Growing up as budding scrum-half, Roigard “tried to mould my game around” Super Rugby veteran TJ Perenara. Years later, the pair became teammates at the Hurricanes.

But disaster struck for both the Canes and Perenara during last year’s end-of-season tour, as the All Black ruptured his Achilles during their stunning draw with England.

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Perenara was suddenly in a race to bit fit ahead of the World Cup in France, while his understudy at the Hurricanes was set for a ground-breaking Super Rugby campaign.

And so far, Roigard has made the most of it.

Roigard had a coming of age performance against the Waratahs in Wellington last week, and has emerged as a genuine All Blacks bolter ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup.

But the 22-year-old wouldn’t be the player he is today without Perenara.

In an interview with RugbyPass, Roigard spoke about how his life has come “full circle” after idolising Perenara growing up.

“Probably the main one is probably TJ because I have a left foot, he has a left foot,” Roigard said.

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“As I grew up I started getting a bit taller so I knew I wasn’t going to be a halfback like Aaron Smith, so I probably saw myself playing a bit more like TJ.

“It’s gone a bit full circle being able to train and play alongside him which is pretty awesome.

“I’d say it’s probably TJ that I tried to mould my game around a little bit growing up.”

Perenara played for a lot of different teams last year, before earning a Test recall during the Autumn Nations Series.

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After starring for the Hurricanes and winning the NPC with Wellington, Perenara went on to impress for the Maori All Blacks, the All Blacks XV, and later the national team.

But that’s when disaster struck.

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In only his second game back in black, Perenara sustained a cruel injury blow in the dying stages of the All Blacks’ stunning draw with England at Twickenham.

Perenara could be seen limping from the field late in the piece, and was reportedly facing a nine month stint on the sidelines.

While the 80-Test All Black is on track to return for the Hurricanes this season, his injury hasn’t stopped him from playing his part.

“There’s a lot of little gems that he shares and that I’ve seen through him over the years,” Roigard added.

“Obviously he’s focused on his rehab… and he’s nailing that the moment which is awesome, but he’s not shy to give me some tips or just mentor because he comes in to the odd training now.

“His influence and experience is definitely carrying over into the team, even though he’s not training with our full squad or playing.

“He’s definitely still got massive value for the team at the moment.”

As reported earlier this week, Roigard admitted that he’s thought about the possibility of pushing onto higher honours with the All Blacks.

There are at least six halfbacks in New Zealand who are seemingly in the mix for World Cup selection, and Roigard is widely considered to be one of them.

“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.

“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 will start in the No. 9 jersey again this week, as the Hurricanes prepare to take on Moana Pasifika in Auckland on Saturday evening.

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