Edinburgh Rugby have a flair player in Charlie Savala - Finn Russell blueprint and what Mike Blair wants from him explained

With Finn Russell as his role model, it’s little wonder Charlie Savala likes to throw the ball about. The trick for the young Edinburgh stand-off is to pick the right moments.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 10:00 pm
Charlie Savala tries to spark an attack for Edinburgh in the pre-season match against Newcastle Falcons. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

Savala, in his second season at the capital club, got an outing in the pre-season defeat against Newcastle on Saturday. He tried a few things and they didn’t always come off but the 21-year-old hasn’t been discouraged from having a go.

The Australian is enjoying working under Mike Blair and says the new Edinburgh coach has given the players licence to play to express themselves when appropriate.

“Mike puts a big emphasis on us as individuals using our strengths,” said Savala. “Obviously there are a lot of varied strengths in our team, a lot of varied skill-sets, and I think he’s really big on people playing to their skill-sets. We have a structure in place but he loves individuals being good at what they do.

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Charlie Savala joined Edinburgh after playing rugby league in Australia with Sydney Roosters. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

“Obviously I made a few errors at the weekend but the first thing he said to me on Monday was, ‘Mate, I love your intent, but let’s just choose the right options going forward.’ It’s been great for me to have someone to back my skill-set and back how I play. It gives me a lot of confidence going into my second season in professional rugby.”

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Savala joined Edinburgh last October after playing rugby league in Australia with Sydney Roosters. He’s looking to kick on after injuries limited him to only two competitive outings in his first season at the club.

“I had a little niggle in my leg which kept recurring, but I got myself right during the summer and feel like I have been smashing it in pre-season,” he said. “I feel great going into this week and the start of the season.”

Quade Cooper kicking a match-winning penalty for Australia against South Africa in his first Test for more than four years. Picture: AFP via Getty Images

Born in Sydney, Savala grew up watching Quade Cooper and was delighted to see the veteran Aussie fly-half make a triumphant return to the Wallabies side in the win over South Africa at the weekend. More recently, Savala has been an admirer of Russell, citing the extravagantly gifted Scotland stand-off as a role model.

“I’ve always loved to play with a bit of attacking flair I guess, but it’s also about knowing the right times to play and the right times to be structured,” Savala said. “Find that balance.

“I do love the way Finn Russell plays. He’s been the man I’ve looked up to the last couple of years. Going back it would have been Quade Cooper but moving over the years, Finn’s the man.”

Edinburgh take on Benetton this Saturday in their final match before the United Rugby Championship begins and there is plenty of competition for the ten jersey.

Savala is a big admirer of Finn Russell, the Scotland and Lions stand-off. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

Jaco van der Walt would appear to be in the box seat but the Scotland international suffered a facial injury against Newcastle and had to come off. Nathan Chamberlain has been in fine form for Heriot’s in the Super6 but Savala is likely to get another run-out against Benetton.

“There is a few of us fighting for the position and it is good to have that healthy competition,” noted Savala, who qualifies for Scotland through his Ayr-born father.

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