Savvy Savala settling in nicely

Savvy Savala settling in nicely

​Having grown up in the suburbs of Sydney, up-and-coming stand-off Charlie Savala is a beach kid at heart, who's used to golden sands, sunshine and tropical water.

So to arrive in Edinburgh in mid-November, with Portobello's icy cold waters the closest equivalent to Bondi Beach, it was always going to be a culture shock, especially when considering Savala was also making the switch from league to union.

However, laidback Savala - who came through the ranks at Sydney Roosters - has taken everything in his stride, even if the transition was made that bit tougher after Pierre Schoeman 'introduced' the 21-year-old to training in the Scottish capital.

"I grew up by the beach, by the sea and that social part of my life has been huge, so to make the switch so quickly, it took a couple of months for it to sink in with me," said Savala.

"Pierre broke my cheek bone a couple of weeks in so it made the transition a little bit harder!

"However, I have already made some good friends here and it's been awesome to feel loved at the club. Without the team, I don’t know what I would be doing as it's obviously been a weird time with covid-19."

Savala has had the support of his teammates since day one with the stand-off bringing a spark to training in his own unique rugby league-inspired style.

And the playmaker hasn't been overawed by his supporting cast - with the likes of Lions Hamish Watson and Duhan van der Merwe offering him continual advice.

"Playing pro rugby was my massive goal. For the opportunity to pop up so quickly was just awesome. I did not have the time to let it sink in.

"It happened so quickly being in this environment with internationals and British and Irish Lions now, but it's been awesome to add my bit of spark coming from a different code and a different country.

"I learn off the guys, coming in every day, and I just want to get better. It really is awesome!"

Savala - whose father hails from Ayr - has strong family roots in the West Coast town and the stand-off is immensely proud of his Celtic heritage.

The stand-off even turned out for Ayr on a childhood visit to his hometown club.

"It's a massive change up for myself. My dad is from Ayr and I have strong family roots over here.

"It's awesome to see some of my family and make some of my family back home proud coming from great Scottish heritage.

"I also went to a Scottish school in Australia. We learned the bagpipes at school, so Scotland has always been in my family ever since i was a young bloke. Hearing the bagpipes and hearing the accents is familiar to me.

"I travelled to Ayr when I was a young. I had long hair at the time and they asked if I played rugby because they were short.

"So I went down as a young kid, me and my three younger brothers played for Ayr. I have the pink and black jersey in my room back home, so it's cool to come back and see it all again."

Although Savala tested the rugby union waters with Ayr as a child, the 20-year-old's bread and butter has been league where he rose through the ranks of local club Sydney Roosters.

"I was always played rugby as a kid, but then there was that two years in league and having to transition back has been quite weird.

"Sitting down with Blair Kinghorn and Jaco van der Walt, and getting an understanding of players and games has been awesome. That helped with my transition.

"The difference between league and union is picking the right time to run with the ball and how to manage a game, by kicking or taking the points on offer."

And those tactical points of the game will be key as Savala hopes to be in line to face Glasgow Warriors at BT Murrayfield this Saturday night.

"The Glagsow defeat been a bit of a motivation this week. There is not much on the line now, but it's still a massive game for us and I can’t wait for the opportunity to get some form of revenge."

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