Rugby World Cup: All Blacks newbie Cam Roigard savouring next chance to don black jersey after successful test debut

Newly capped as All Black No.1210, Cam Roigard can't wait for his next chance to don the black jersey.

After a standout season in Super Rugby Pacific for the Hurricanes, Roigard continued his rapid rise on Saturday, and made his test debut in the All Blacks' 38-7 victory against the Wallabies.

And while the 22-year-old's first-up efforts won't grab any headlines, Roigard is now well and truly in the mix to hold his spot when the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup squad is named later this month.

At the start of 2023, putting Roigard forward as an All Blacks contender would have been a brave call for anyone to make.

Ardie Savea and Cam Roigard with the Bledisloe Cup.
Ardie Savea and Cam Roigard with the Bledisloe Cup. Photo credit: Getty Images

But week by week, the left-footed halfback has overtaken the likes of Brad Weber, Folau Fakatava and injured Hurricanes teammate TJ Perenara in the race to deputise for Aaron Smith.

And revelling in his first test appearance, Roigard couldn't hide his delight at breaking into New Zealand rugby's most exclusive club.

"It was awesome, a dream come true," said Roigard. "It's something that, I suppose, you think could happen since you're a kid.

"It starts coming closer and closer. You think it might be a couple of years away, then up to a couple of weeks away, then the day's here. 

"Although you try and mentally prepare, nothing can prepare you for an occasion like this."

At just 22, and with a handful of Super Rugby games as his highest playing qualifications, Roigard would be forgiven for having nerves ahead of his first appearance for his country.

And despite being part of the All Blacks' squad for the entirety of this year's Rugby Championship campaign, nothing could prepare him for the excitement of running out onto the Melbourne Cricket Ground for his first cap. 

"I probably didn't get the best couple of sleeps this week, rehearsing what might happen when I might get on, how many minutes I might get, stuff like that.

"You can't really prepare for it. You can, but that moment [of] running on, there's nothing like it."

Now, though, the next challenge will be avoiding the ignominy of becoming a one-cap wonder.

With Saturday's win locking away both the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup for another year, next week's return fixture between the two sides is of little consequence to the All Blacks.

Should coach Ian Foster wish, Saturday's clash in Dunedin can serve as a final World Cup audition for players yet to book their tickets to France.

That could see both Roigard and Finlay Christie spend this coming week battling to wear the No.9 jersey under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

But regardless of what number is on his back, Roigard will be happy to run out for test appearance No.2 next Saturday.

"Every All Black that gets their debut, just wants to get another crack," he added. 

"Hopefully I do get another one, but at the moment, I'm just going to enjoy this one."

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