Roigard seizes chance in nine jersey
Seizing his moment in DHL Super Rugby Pacific in 2023, Hurricanes halfback Cameron Roigard goes up against his home region, the Chiefs, at SKY Stadium, on Saturday afternoon.
The 22-year-old former St Peter's schools player takes another step in his rapid development in the table-topping contest, a situation made possible by the Achilles tendon rupture that has kept All Black TJ Perenara from playing this year.
While the Hurricanes have arrived at their halfway point of the season with a share of the lead, Roigard says they have much more to achieve this season. They had worked hard through the pre-season and now faced some big games.
"We've been growing each week and I think it's showing on the field as well, but we've still got a long way to go, so now we're coming up to some big games it will be awesome to see how we go against them. We're definitely title contenders, that's for sure."
It's a heady challenge for any player, but the Counties Manukau player's maturity originates beyond the rugby field.
Roigard had an unusual choice when the prospect of a full-time rugby career was in the offing.
He had grown up in a stockcar racing family, coming through racing mini-stocks until he was 16 before moving into saloons and super stocks until the end of 2020 when he got a contract with the Hurricanes.
"Rugby was something I was probably a bit more passionate about. I saw a pathway to make it a job as such."
Hurricanes coach Jason Holland explained they had seen Roigard playing at Under-20 level, enquired about him with Counties Manukau and signed him in 2021. His passing quality impressed, and since joining the group, he has proved to be a hard worker.
Hurricanes name team for blockbuster Chiefs matchup, this Saturday, 2:35PM at Sky Stadium— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) April 13, 2023
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"All Cam is concentrating on is that he gets good balance in his game, is passing and kicking well, and has a crack when it's on."
Roigard said since joining the Hurricanes, his focus in 2022 was on his kicking game, and he still worked on that, but this year he was working on his running game and choosing the best times to run.
He never aimed at gaining a place with the Chiefs. He just wanted to play Super Rugby wherever it was. The chance came to play for the Hurricanes when regular Jamie Booth was injured, and he relished the opportunity.
Now he was relishing playing in big games because of the development and experience they provided.
"Going against someone like Brad [Weber], who is an All Blacks halfback, is pretty huge."
He has heard talk of All Blacks selection in his future and said that while it was always a goal, it wouldn't happen after only one or two big games.
"It comes back to trying to play consistently, week in and week out, so that's my focus."
There were a lot of good halfbacks in New Zealand, and Perenara would be back in action soon, so the competition for places was always a challenge.
"I'm still pretty green in terms of experience, and it's not until this year that I've had a genuine crack and getting good minutes at this level. So, it's making sure I'm not getting overwhelmed in the big games and the big moments, so that if an opportunity does arise whether that's with the All Blacks or All Blacks XV I'd be as ready as I can."
Last year's experience with the All Blacks XV, and being with Weber, Perenara and Cortez Ratima and under different management, he was picking up little gems of information that wasn't always possible when playing under the same coaches all the time.
Working with Perenara at the Hurricanes was always competitive. Even when recovering from his Achilles tendon rupture, Perenara constantly challenged him in whatever they were doing. He also enjoyed their conversations around the game and getting better.
"He's definitely open to share his experience which is great."
Round 8 is HERE! Check out all the team lists and big stories ⬇️#SuperRugbyPacific— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) April 13, 2023