Roigard: from speedway to All Black

New All Black Cam Roigard with his dad, Dave, in Cambridge on Monday.

Waipā – and Cambridge – has its newest home grown All Black.

On Sunday, after much buzz about his chances, former St Peter’s Cambridge 1st XV, now Hurricanes halfback, Cam Roigard was among five newcomers – and three players with Cambridge connections – in a 36-man squad named for next month’s Rugby Championship.

The series is seen as vital preparation ahead of the Rugby World Cup later this year and All Blacks coach Ian Foster returned to his former club  – Te Awamutu Sports  – to announce his first squad of 2023.

Foster played 100 premier games for Te Awamutu.

Former Cambridge High School student – loose forward Luke Jacobson, who made his All Blacks’ debut in 2019, and Samipeni Finau, a loose forward who played for St Peter’s, were also named.

In Cambridge, hearing their son’s name called on Sunday made Cam’s parents Dave and Lisa – who own and operate Karapiro Charters and Tours – ecstatic.

Cam was with them and a core group of family and friends to watch the announcement live.

“It was a bit nerve wracking as each name was read,” Dave said.

“Being at home with everyone, then hearing my name called though was a special moment I’ll cherish forever,” Cam added.

Cameron Roigard in Cambridge’s Town Square. Photo: Jeremy Smith.

Cam and Finau are the second and third All Blacks to come from St Peter’s Cambridge stocks.

The school’s first All Black was second five-eighth Keith Lowen.

When Cam, 22, was at St Peter’s, he spent three years – 2016-2018 – in his school’s First XV, attending the National Top 4 Co-ed Cup competition in each of those years.

He’s St Peter’s First XV’s most capped player, with 56 games.

His subsequent rise through the rugby ranks has been rapid, and Dave has a bit of an idea what, in part, that comes down to.

“Cam certainly works hard. Everywhere he goes, he makes the most of any opportunities.”

Making a “big call” after finishing school, Cam headed to Counties Manukau and represented the Steelers in the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup.

He was selected for the Hurricanes squad as a replacement player for the 2020 preseason programme, and his contract was then extended to cover the 2020 Super Rugby season.

He was offered an injury replacement contract in 2021 and signed a fulltime contract last year.

He was then selected in the All Blacks XV squad for its 2022 Northern Tour made up of two games – one against Ireland A, the other The Barbarians.

Now, his 2023 speaks for itself – and as his rugby took off, Cam parked his other love – speedway racing.

First getting behind the wheel at eight, his best result, in 2019, came in saloons – he finished second at the New Zealand championships.

Cam said while he’s always dreamed of becoming an up All Black, his first priority to date has been to put his best foot forward as starting half back for the Hurricanes while TJ Perenara is out injured.

“TJ has set the standard at the Hurricanes for so many years, I just want to ensure that whenever I’m given the chance to step up, I give my all for the jersey.”

Lisa, a doting mum, said she’s documenting each step of Cam’s rugby – and now All Blacks – journey in a scrap book.

And it’s a special one to reflect on.

Cam first started playing rugby at age four while attending Karāpiro School.

At 10, he captained the Cambridge Bowers side when he was a year younger than the rest of the team.

He also captained the Gwynne Shield side and was part of the 2012 Waikato Roller Mills team which won the title for the first time in 21 years.

“He’s certainly grown as a player on what’s been quite a fast path,” Dave said.

“It just shows that for any young kid out there growing up in New Zealand dreaming of being an All Black one day – Cam had a large poster of Dan Carter on his wall – there’s a pathway on which that can happen, with some hard work and dedication.”

Meanwhile, as much has been made of Cam’s consistency this year, he has a rather straightforward approach to achieving it.

“A large part is preparation-based. If you know you’ve put in your best effort in training, then – in a way – games almost take care of themselves.”

The All Blacks kick off their 2023 Rugby Championship campaign next month against Argentina.

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