Rugby World Cup: Cam Roigard relishes 'mindblowing' prospect of locking horns with French star Antonine Dupont

For All Blacks newcomer Cam Roigard, arriving in France to contest a World Cup has only amplified the already surreal nature of his call-up to test level.

A week out from their opener against the hosts, the New Zealanders finally touched down on French soil, welcomed by the locals in Lyon, where they'll call home for the duration of the tournament.

Two-test halfback Roigard admits the fanfare has helped the magnitude of the moment rapidly set in.

Cam Roigard in action for the All Blacks.
Cam Roigard in action for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Seeing how passionate the French are around rugby, not just their own team but us, and how proud they are to have us in Lyon makes it feel real," Roigard said.

"If you don't take time to step back and have a look from the outside it can actually go past without actually enjoying it."

Elevated to the test squad after his breakthrough campaign for the Hurricanes during Super Rugby Pacific, the Cambridge product has instantly made his presence felt in the black jersey.

His play off the bench was one of the few highlights for the All Blacks during last weekend's abysmal outing against the Springboks, punctuated by his moment of individual brilliance to score the team's only try.

In fact, it seems Roigard may have usurped Finlay Christie as the team's second-choice halfback behind incumbent Aaron Smith, meaning he may reprise his Twickenham role for the gargantuan showdown with the surging French in Paris next Saturday (NZ time).

Locking horns with linchpin Antoine Dupont in front of a sold-out crowd at the Stade de France is a prospect Roigard describes as "mindblowing".

Widely regarded as the world's premier halfback, Dupont has been one of the driving forces behind Les Bleus' stellar run of form leading into the Cup that has seen them lose just once in their past 20 tests.

"It's pretty awesome," Roigard said of the possibility of the ultimate litmus test against counterpart Dupont.

"I suppose the dream has always been to play on the world stage, and to be fortunate enough to be in a position where that could potentially happen next week is pretty mindblowing to actually think about to be honest.

France star Antoine Dupont.
France star Antoine Dupont. Photo credit: Getty Images

"But I'm really looking forward to the challenge and getting into our work for that French prep."

The All Blacks landed in France after a quick stint in Germany, where Roigard says the squad had the chance to face some hard truths from their record defeat to the Springboks in their final warm-up game.

With lessons learned, he insists the squad has left the match in the rear-view mirror and their confidence is unshaken heading into the sport's pinnacle event.

Despite the result in London, the All Blacks remain the bookies' favourite to win both their opener against the hosts - who have been stung by injury - and the World Cup.

"Obviously we always go out there with the intention to perform, and unfortunately I suppose we got beaten by a better team in that South African game.

"But now all of our attention is looking forward to France in the first game, so we're really excited about that.

"We had a really good week in Germany building our connection and learning a lot from that game

"We know how good we can be when we perform, so definitely making sure we take the time to prep as well as we can so we're playing as well as we can against France."

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