Hurricanes halfback and former speedway driver Cam Roigard flies in for his try in the Hurricanes’ pre-season win over the Crusaders in Levin last Friday.
- By Steven White
Cam Roigard is is part of the new guard for the Hurricanes.
Needless to say, Roigard and the Hurricanes are looking forward to taking the field this Saturday against the Reds in Townsville.
“We have been together since November, so it feels like its been like a long pre-season and we have been building nicely and it would be good to put everything we have been working towards into practice,” he said. “We are pretty buzzing for Super Rugby to kick off.”
This will the Hurricanes’ first visit to Townsville, and it promises to be an energy sapper. “We have heard how hot it can be, so it will be a challenge.”
With TJ Perenara sidelined with injury, Roigard is one of three halfbacks in the squad at present, along with Jamie Booth and Logan Henry. Manawatu’s U20 halfback Jordi Viljoen is also with the squad on a training contract.
“Although TJ is working hard with his rehab, he is still getting out and watching us train and helping out, which is awesome for someone like me who is still young and developing. Having his eyes watching me and giving me feedback is huge for my growth.”
TJ has played in 150 of the last 179 Hurricanes games since his debut. Roigard will be on the plane to Brisbane this Thursday, and there is a good chance the Steelers halfback will be named as the starting nine in Townsville in his place when the first team is announced.
As a halfback Roigard is in the front line for a rule change for this year’s Super Rugby Pacific competition that kicks off this weekend.
The rule states that the halfback not in possession must remain one metre from the scrum and may not advance past the tunnel until the scrum has ended.
“In terms of the attacking side of things, it’s great because now you can have a licence to go whichever way you want without the influence of the defending halfback,” said Roigard.
“But on the opposite side, particularly defending near your tryline, you have got to be really strategic about what the nine’s role is on defence.”
The Hurricanes have perhaps the best in the business in Ardie Savea to exploit this on attack and Ardie and some other dynamic loose forwards such as Du Plessis Kirifi and Devan Flanders to assist in the tackling department.
Roigard is also not small for a halfback, listed as being being 88kg and 1.83m or 6.0 feet tall in the old school measurement.
“I was always the smallest in the team growing up,” he said. “Even when I was in the First XV I was a scrawny 55kgs, and then when I left school and joined the Counties Manukau academy I put on some size and kept growing.”
Roigard said that the two recent pre-season games against the Blues in Auckland and the Crusaders in Levin have been positive.
“Particularly for a few players who wouldn’t initially get those opportunities to get minutes on the field at this level leading into the season. Plus for the All Blacks boys, who in previous years haven’t been available for pre-season so they get thrown straight into that high intensity rugby once the competition is underway.”
And positive personally because last year he didn’t have a pre-season, as he explained:
“I had shoulder surgery in October 2021, so I missed the entire pre-season last year and the first few rounds of the competition. So I have enjoyed being fit and fresh at the start of this year.”
He dislocated his shoulder in the first match of the 2021 NPC playing for his Counties Manukau Steelers side. As it transpired all the Auckland region teams were withdrawn from the NPC because of the Covid lockdown and he didn’t miss any more rugby for the Steelers.
Considering he was coming back from his shoulder surgery, Roigard had a stellar 2022.
After making seven appearances in 2021, he took the field another six times for the Hurricanes, all off the bench, before joining up with the Steelers for the NPC.
Roigard in his first starting appearance for the Hurricanes in June 2021, a 43-14 win over the Reds.
He started at halfback in all but one of last year’s NPC fixtures and was the Steelers Player of the Year, as well as winning the Players’ Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards.
He also earned a call-up to his first national team, New Zealand A, and travelled to Europe with them.
“It was pretty surreal, and my family was able to head over there to be at the game I played in. That was off the bench behind TJ against Ireland A.”
Roigard was brought up in Karapiro and attended nearby St Peter’s School, Cambridge, as a day student.
He spent three years in his side’s First XV between 2016-18, and his school attended the National Top 4 Co-ed Cup competition in all three years.
In 2017 he scored four tries and helped set up a fifth all before halftime in St Peters’ semi-final match against St Andrew’s College.
Above (expand window if appearing in small screen mode): St Peter’s School halfback Cam Roigard scores four first half tries in his school’s 48-15 2017 Top Four Co-ed Cup semi-final win over St Andrews College. Footage by College Sport Media. Instances of halfbacks scoring four tries are rare. Tomasi Palu did so for Old Boys University against Hutt Old Boys Marist a few seasons back, Grant Batty scored bucketloads of tries at halfback on up to several occasions for Greytown’s Kurunui College in the late 1960s.
“We finished third in my first year and we ended up winning in my year 12 in 2017 and then going back-to-back and winning again in 2018, so those are highlights of my rugby at school.”
“I was lucky enough to score two tries in the 2018 final against Rangiora High School. We scored a bunch of tries in the first half and had a comfortable lead and thought we had it in the bag, but then they came back with a hiss and a roar and just about beat us.”
Roigard was mentioned in despatches by the College Sport Media reporter sideline that day:
Roigard appears to be a particularly promising prospect. A swift and accurate pass is complemented by an ability to snipe at timely moments.
Cam Roigard (second from left) featured on the back on the St Peter’s School bus that rolled into Palmerston North for the Top 4 competition in 2018.
He was in the Waikato Rugby Union academy in this final year at school, but Counties Manukau called.
“Counties Manukau approached me and it was a bit of a gamble but I also saw a clearer pathway for me to play NPC rugby, which was my goal at the time. So I made that decision to move up there and join their academy.”
A winning move.
He played for the Steelers U19s at the Jock Hobbs Memorial National U19s tournament in 2019, and then the following year he earned a full contract for the NPC season.
He played for the Onewhero club in Counties-Manukau, whose Premier team went into abeyance post Covid. Last year their U85kg side was their flagship team, winning the union’s U85kg championship and appearing at the National U85kg Club Championships.
He is listed as being affiliated with Hutt Old Boys Marist in Wellington, should he get the chance to make his Swindale Shield or Jubilee Cup debut in Wellington club rugby this year.
The following year, 2021, Roigard got called in to the Hurricanes as an injury replacement.
He played six matches off the bench in 2021 for the Hurricanes, making his debut against the Crusaders, and then made his starting debut at halfback exactly two months later against the Rebels.
As well as rugby, Roigard has another sporting passion – speedway.
“Growing up I was heavily involved in speedway. I raced those up until 2020 when I got my first Hurricanes contract and I had to stop. My father did it and then I started with mini-stocks which is the kids’ version of the race car with Datsun 1200 engines.
What about continuing that in the future? “I am definitely open to it, but its physically demanding and you take some hits, so we will see after the rugby career is over.”
For now, its safe to assume that his speedway car will remain garaged for sometime as he has plenty left in his rugby tank.
Roigard Scoring his try last Friday against the Crusaders in Levin.