Get to know: Charlie Savala
A rugby league convert whose family hail from Ayr! Get to know up-and-coming stand-off Charlie Savala.
D.O.B: 21 April 2000
Place of Birth: Sydney
Former club: Sydney Roosters
At what age did you get in to rugby and what was your journey to Edinburgh?
"I have played rugby for as long as I can remember. I originally played soccer as a young lad growing up, although I was never any good.
"I remember I used to pick up the ball and run with it and that’s when my mum took me to rugby. At the age of five, I began my rugby career playing for the Coogee Dolphins with my brother and a few of my friends from school.
"Coming from a big family, my mum was always taking myself and my brothers and sisters to rugby pitches all over NSW every weekend which I am so grateful for.
"At the age of 13 I was lucky enough to attend The Scots College where I continued to play union all through my high school years.
"It was awesome getting to play alongside my best mates in front of our school each weekend, and singing Flower of Scotland when we won!
"After finishing high school I sustained a bad run of injuries which I thought put an end to my dream of becoming a rugby player. However, after almost a year of rehab, I managed to get myself back to full fitness.
"I was then picked up by the Sydney Roosters, where I worked two separate jobs during the day time and trained with the club every night. I was lucky enough to be promoted to the top squad prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"However, with playing opportunities limited in Sydney, I made the decision to chase my dream and represent my family over here in Edinburgh, Scotland."
Tell us a little bit about yourself as a player?
"Growing up, I was lucky enough to play all different sports which I feel is really represented in my game.
"I enjoy getting my hands on the ball and I love playing quick rugby. I like to add a bit of flair in attack and love taking the ball to the line."
You joined the club in November in the midst of a global pandemic. How have you found settling in this season?
"Yeah, it has been a really rewarding but different experience for myself over the past six months. This time last year I was working part-time as a labourer, playing rugby league and fitting my training in during the evenings.
"Moving across the world to chase my dream would have been the last thing on my mind, but I am so grateful I’ve been able to experience this.
"Settling in the first few weeks was a challenge for me, being from a close family and group of friends was something I’ve always known.
"Moving away from them really makes you appreciate how much they mean to you and do for you.
"I was pretty oblivious to the severity of the pandemic in Europe before moving here, but the boys at the club really helped with the transition through Covid.
"I also broke my cheekbone just after being here for a few weeks which knocked me and I wanted to head back home to Australia at that stage.
"I’m so grateful for the family and friends I have over here who helped me get back on my feet.
"It’s been an awesome few months here in Edinburgh, and I've learnt a lot both as a person and player. I’m excited for the future."
What did you know about Edinburgh as a city before you moved over?
"That it was cold! I was lucky that my old man is from Ayr, so I was prepped for the weather.
"Since arriving in November, I have spent a lot of my time over lockdown adventuring the beautiful city.
Having joined from a different country and a different code, have you noticed any difference in the way the game is played over here?
"I feel the game is a lot more physical and it's important that you choose the right times to run the ball or you’ll end up running into a brick wall.
"I was lucky to have played union throughout my childhood and school years, so adapting to the rules hasn’t been a big issue for me.
"Another difference I have learnt is being able to adapt to the conditions, which is especially important for myself as a fly-half."
You made your debut against Cardiff Blues. How did you find that experience and were you nervous going in to the game?
"Yeah it was awesome. To be able to fulfil a dream of mine that I’ve had since a young kid was amazing and it's an experience I’ll remember for a while.
"I never really get too nervous before games and like to stay quite calm. Although it all sank in when Cockers pointed to me in the team meeting before the bus and said 'Savala you're calling the shots tonight.'
"The nerves were eased by having Big Bill Mata and Eroni Sau in the lockers next to me in the sheds. I loved every minute out there and can’t wait for another opportunity."
What is your personal ambition this season from a rugby perspective?
"My goal for the rest of the season is to get as many opportunities as I can in the squad over the Rainbow Cup competition.
"It was awesome to get a taste of first grade football a few weeks ago and I loved every minute of it."
Favourite TV show: Married at First Sight
Sporting hero: Sonny Bill Williams
Favourite other sport: Table tennis
Go-to meal: Chicken parmigiana
Favourite musicians: Fleetwood Mac
Which actor would play you in a movie: Jack Black in Kung Fu Panda