Rugby World Cup: Rising star Cam Roigard ready to find voice in maiden test start against Namibia

One of the most notable changes among the All Blacks first XV to face Namibia is the addition of halfback Cam Roigard, who - for the first time at test level - has a No.9 against his name.  

After his breakout performances during Super Rugby Pacific, the Hurricanes phenom has earned two caps off the bench in his first test campaign with the All Blacks and has left an indelible mark on both occasions.

Statements don't come much more emphatic than the one he made at Twickenham, when his moment of individual brilliance against the Springboks provided the clear highlight of an otherwise forgettable All Blacks display.  

Now, the Cambridge product has been tasked with helping them regain some World Cup momentum, after their opening defeat to France on the biggest stage of his fledgling career.  

There's no denying his abilities with ball in hand, but Roigard - described by NZ and Hurricanes teammate Ardie Savea as the "quiet assassin" - admits the biggest challenge he faces now is to overcome his naturally quiet demeanour and turn up the volume on the pitch.  

"I'm always trying to develop my game and I know how important communication is out on the field," he said.  "I'm trying to be loud when I need to be loud and using my voice is crucial in my position. 


Cam Roigard.
Cam Roigard. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I've always been competitive. I've always tried to chase people in my position, right from Super Rugby to where I am now - that's a big part of my development.   

"So, though I'm a little bit introverted and quiet, being competitive, and pushing myself and others around me is a big part of trying to grow, and be a better player."  

No doubt that sense of ambition will come to the fore at Toulouse this weekend, where a strong outing against the Namibians could go a long way to helping Roigard usurp Finlay Christie as deputy to incumbent half Aaron Smith.  

Christie's impact has been understated this season and his position as the concrete back-up seems tenuous at best.  

Coach Ian Foster is glowing in his assessment of Roigard's contributions during training this year and particularly since their arrival in France.  

"It's an exciting time for him," said Foster. "The times he's come off the bench, he's done a really good job and he's learning all the time.  

"He's gaining in composure and this is a very real opportunity for him. I can't wait to see him out there.  

"I'm sure there will be a few nerves early on, but he's a quality player, he's doing a lot of work behind the scenes and he has impressed us in that regard."

Damian McKenzie will lineup outside Roigard in the halves against the African minnows, allowing them to reprise their combination for the All Blacks XV against Ireland A late last year.  

The Chiefs playmaker is well aware what the robust Roigard brings to the pitch. During training this week, McKenzie has urged the youngster to eschew any modesty and let his game do the talking.  

"I've watched a lot of Cam through the year, and know how good he is and how well he plays," said McKenzie.  

"It's really important throughout the week to just make sure you get across all your detail, and knowing what Cam wants from me and what I want from Cam.  

"So far, we've had a good week. Still learning a few things, but he's obviously a really exciting player... I'll just give some early comms and let him do his thing.  

"I said to Cam throughout the week to just trust what he does and we'll get behind him, so looking forward to playing outside him."  

For the former speedway hopeful, Saturday will be another step on his dizzying rise through the ranks, but it's a moment he insists he's well prepared for.  

"It's been pretty surreal since I did get named in the squad and hoping that this sort of moment would eventuate, and for it to be just around the corner is pretty exciting."  

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