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Watch: Cam Roigard impresses after blitzing All Blacks' pre-season Bronco

By Finn Morton
Cam Roigard of New Zealand gestures a thumbs-up at the fans at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between New Zealand and Namibia at Stadium de Toulouse on September 15, 2023 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

After farewelling some icons of the game, including veteran Aaron Smith, at the end of last year’s heartbreaking Rugby World Cup campaign, the All Blacks have ushered in the dawn of a new era.

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New coach Scott ‘Razor’ Robertson gathered 22 All Blacks for a two-day camp in Auckland this week, which offered these players an opportunity to impress during some pre-season testing.

Prop Fletcher Newell made headlines in New Zealand after squatting more than 250kg in the gym while others watched on in both awe and support. Newell has made his mark – and he’s not alone.

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While a player like Aaron Smith is irreplaceable in a way, All Blacks fans will be thrilled to hear the Test centurion’s heir apparent is primed and ready to go after a record-equalling fitness blitz.

According to the All Blacks’ Instagram page, rising star Cam Roigard has drawn level with playmaker Beauden Barrett in the pre-season Bronco after taking just 4 minutes and 12 seconds to complete the 1.2km shuttle run without a break.

In what’s become an incredibly popular fitness test in sports around the world, athletes are tasked with running 20, 40 and 60 metres shuttle runs five times each.

 

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Roigard, 23, emerged as the fan favourite to succeed Smith in the No. 9 jersey after impressing at Test level last year. It seems the Hurricanes halfback is doing everything he can to make that happen.

“Fit, ready and some goo tans,” coach Scott Robertson told reporters on Tuesday.

“They’ve had a really good break, and the World Cup cycle and the extra little bit of time for them has been really valuable.

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“They’ve come back with some good PBs (personal bests) and no flags. That’s what you look for, someone who has a couple of extras, but everyone’s in great nick.

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“The boys have owned that period of time and come back fresh.”

The All Blacks social media team caught shots of players looking incredibly tired – or as Roigard explained, “exhausted” – after the tough fitness test in the heat.

Veteran Anton Lienert-Brown ran the Bronco in 4.37, while flanker Dalton Papali’i finished in the forties for the first time (4.45).

With Caleb Clarke using his hand as a microphone, the wing attempted to interview Cam Roigard who was clearly still trying to recover from the run.

Roigard, still with a smile on his face, did make sure to mention that he’d just “tied Baz’s record.” But teammate Rieko Ioane made sure to point out that Barrett’s actual best was 4.11.

According to Clarke, it was Roigard and playmaker Damian McKenzie who shot out of the blocks as the two front-runners to begin with.

“We had fitness testing yesterday and everyone hit their numbers, which was good,” McKenzie said later. “Obviously, summer is a good time to catch up with family and refresh from a big year last year.

“The boys came back and hit their numbers, did what they needed to do. It’s always a pretty nervous time of the year on the first day back, but everyone’s in pretty good shape.

“We (gesturing to Will Jordan) have been in the All Blacks last year and in the past, and there will be a lot of new guys coming through,” he added.

“For us, it’s about just owning our stuff throughout the year. Obviously, there’s expectations as All Blacks to go back and perform for your Super club and making sure that we’re doing that throughout the year and leading by example for the rest of the players coming through.

“Owning our stuff for the year, making sure we have a good season so we put our hands up to be picked for that first series.

“For us, it’s about going back to our Super clubs, really owning that and leading by example. The boys are excited for that challenge and it’s not going to be an issue for the players.”

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