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Why Ardie Savea couldn’t be happier for ‘good old Cam’ Roigard

By Finn Morton
Aaron Smith and Cam Roigard of the All Blacks run through drills during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Mt Smart Stadium on June 30, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Halfback Cam Roigard will officially become an All Black on Saturday if he comes off the bench against the Wallabies at the world-famous Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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After beating world champions South Africa 35-20 in Auckland a fortnight ago, the All Blacks have named a relatively unchanged starting lineup to take on Australia.

Flanker Dalton Papali’i replaces usual captain Sam Cane at openside flanker, and No. 8 Ardie Savea takes up the leadership role for the Bledisloe Cup opener.

On a perfect day in Melbourne, and with the sun at his back, Savea spoke with a sea of reporters on the eve of this highly anticipated trans-Tasman derby.

Savea spoke confidently ahead of the match – and was even surprised by a passionate cheer from All Blacks fans on a boat sailing passed – and also smiled his way through the media scrum.

But Savea let out his biggest grin as he began to talk about debutant-to-be Cam Roigard. The pair are teammates in Super Rugby Pacific with the Hurricanes, and are set to rekindle their combination at Test level.

Roigard, who stepped into the No. 9 jersey at the Hurricanes in the absence of injured veteran TJ Perenara, was simply brilliant this season. Every week, the halfback seemed to get better and better.

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The 22-year-old was rewarded for his fine form with a call-up to the All Blacks last month, and has continued to chip away in training ahead of a potential debut.

That debut, at the time of writing, might only be just over 24 hours away.

Roigard was named on the bench as the sole debutant in the All Blacks’ matchday 23, and Savea couldn’t have been happier for “good old Cam.”

“I’m so happy for him,” Savea told reporters.

“He’s been a dude that’s kind of been in the background at the Canes and what you see on the field is the labour that he does away from the field. I’ve seen that in the last couple of years at the Canes.

“He’s just been given the opportunity the last two years to really shine his light and he has, and it’s kind of rewarded him being in the All Blacks and this week he gets that first opportunity to don the black jersey.

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“It’s special when you see someone, you’ve kind of been there from when they first came in… he’s a talented man, a man of few words.

“I’m excited for him and his family.”

The All Blacks have been pretty well perfect to start their Rugby Championship campaign, and can secure two pieces of silverware with a win over arch-rivals Australia this weekend.

As well as The Rugby Championship crown, the All Blacks can also lock up the prestigious Bledisloe Cup for another year. New Zealand has held the trophy for more than two decades.

But if the All Blacks fail to win this Test, then the two-match series heads to a decider at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium next weekend.

“It’s always important to look at the bigger picture,” Savea added. “In terms of what we want to achieve long term.

“But obviously you break it down and for us it’s week by week, and that’s the mantra we’ve been going for.

“This week is another great, big challenge for us, especially in Melbourne at the G, against an Aussie team that’s hurting. It’s going to be an interesting one but it’s going to be good.”

The All Blacks take on fierce rivals Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday night in the first of two Bledisloe Cup Tests.

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Turlough 3 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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