Roigard, 22, has grown by leaps and bounds as a rugby player this year. Stepping into the shoes of injured veteran TJ Perenara at the Hurricanes, the youngster made the No. 9 jersey his own.
Fans and pundits alike made their voices heard during Super Rugby Pacific as Roigard began to surge up the halfback depth chart in New Zealand, and emerged as a genuine World Cup bolter.
The scrum-half was later included in the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship squad along with Aaron Smith and Finlay Christie, and debuted in the black jersey against Australia at the world-famous MCG in July.
Roigard returned to the international arena as a second-half replacement for Smith during the record loss to South Africa at Twickenham. But Roigard was a shining light on an otherwise dark day.
Coach Ian Foster has handed the rising star his first start at Test level, with Roigard set to run out alongside playmaker Damian McKenzie in a new-look halves duo on Friday night.
“I suppose it’s been pretty surreal since I did get named in the squad, hoping that this sort of moment would eventuate, and for it to be just around the corner is pretty exciting,” Roigard told reporters.
“It’s been a good week so far.
“We actually played together in the ABs XV against Ireland, I came on in the backend of the game when D Mac was still on so had a little bit of game time together.”
Before Roigard sat down in front of reporters – alongside McKenzie, Leicester Fainga’anuku and Caleb Clarke – coach Foster and captain Savea answered a flurry of questions.
Savea was both charismatic and poised during this press conference, but the captain let out a big grin as he began to speak about Hurricanes teammate Roigard.
Earlier this week during a gym session in Lyon, Savea spotted Roigard “in the corner of my eye watching” first-choice No. 9 Aaron Smith. Roigard is a competitor, and Savea admires that in the halfback.
“He’s one of those guys who is really quiet but deep down he’s a competitor and he doesn’t like losing,” Savea said on Wednesday.
“For example, Nug (Aaron Smith) was in the gym this week and he was pumping some good bench press weights and I see Cam in the corner of my eye watching him.
“It’s awesome to see Cam, where he is and where he’s come from and the journey he’s taken. It’s awesome that he gets the opportunity.
“He’s a quiet man but hopefully he’s not quiet this week. He really speaks through his actions.”
Moments later, Roigard was asked about his competitive spirit and whether Savea’s description of “quiet assassin” fit the bill.
Clearly, it does.
“I think I’ve always been competitive and always trying to chase the people in my position right from Super Rugby to where I am now,” Roigard added.
“I think that’s a big part of my development… the ability to actually be myself, although it’s a little bit introverted, being competitive and trying to push myself and others around me has been a big part of trying to grow.”