Rugby World Cup: Why coach Ian Foster picked Finlay Christie over Cam Roigard for All Blacks' quarter-final blockbuster against Ireland

Defensive abilities have proved the decisive factor in Finlay Christie winning selection for Sunday's (NZ time) crucial Rugby World Cup quarter-final between the All Blacks and Ireland, with young gun Cam Roigard the man to make way.

While Aaron Smith's status as the All Blacks No.1 halfback has never been in doubt, the role of his deputy has been hotly debated in 2023.

This weekend is no different, with Christie the man backed to wear No.21, when the All Blacks' World Cup hopes go on the line.

Cam Roigard, Aaron Smith and Finlay Christie train.
Cam Roigard, Aaron Smith and Finlay Christie train. Photo credit: Photosport

However, the selection comes at a cost to Roigard, who has gone from strength to strength, since making his debut earlier this year.

So far at this World Cup, Christie is yet to start a game, but has come off the bench three times. On the other hand, Roigard is arguably New Zealand's breakout star, winning Man of-the Match for his efforts against Namibia, where he started at No.9.

Coach Ian Foster says Christie's preference over Roigard comes down to the challenge that the All Blacks face against a physical Ireland outfit.

"We just felt it's horses for courses for this particular game," Foster explained. "We think Finlay's got an edge defensively.

"We think there's a lot of action likely to happen around the ruck, defensively.

"We've been delighted with Cam's form and in a different game, that might have gone slightly differently, but in this one here, we've gone for that."

So far this year, Roigard has played five tests and scored four tries, including a double against Namibia and one in the All Blacks' record defeat to South Africa at Twickenham. Christie has played 19 tests since his 2021 debut, scoring one try.  

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