Lealiifano signs with Moana Pasifika

Christian Lealiifano is the first big name to formally commit to Moana Pasifika, the former Wallabies World Cup playmaker signing on for the side’s 2022 Super Rugby Pacific debut. Lealiifano on Thursday officially put pen to paper for next season with an option to extend. “As someone who was raised a proud Samoan, there is […]

Lealiifano signs with Moana Pasifika

Christian Lealiifano is the first big name to formally commit to Moana Pasifika, the former Wallabies World Cup playmaker signing on for the side’s 2022 Super Rugby Pacific debut.

Lealiifano on Thursday officially put pen to paper for next season with an option to extend.

“As someone who was raised a proud Samoan, there is massive appeal in playing for a team that celebrates my heritage and my culture,” he said.

“I have been blessed with so many amazing opportunities over the course of my rugby career that I feel I can give back to a special community that has always supported me regardless of what colour jersey I was wearing.”

Moana Pasifika coach Aaron Mauger said Lealiifano’s experience and strong Samoan identity made him an obvious target choice for the new Super Rugby entity.

“We’re ecstatic that Christian has chosen to join our Moana Va’a for the journey ahead; he brings so many great qualities that will serve our team well,” Mauger said.

“Christian is one of those unbelievable players who oozes class as a footy player and a man.

“How he sees the game, how he plays the game and the level of professionalism and leadership he brings will play a huge part in our growth as a team and the development of the players around him.”

First debuting under Robbie Deans during the 2013 series against the touring British and Irish Lions, Lealiifano has made 26 appearances for the Wallabies following a stirring comeback from a life-threatening illness.

He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016.

Remarkably, following a successful bone marrow transplant, the goalkicking five-eighth returned to Super Rugby in 2017 before heading overseas for a short stint in Ireland’s Pro14 and European Rugby Champions Cup with Ulster.

A key playmaker in Brumbies Super Rugby campaigns between 2008 and 2019, Leali’ifano has been plying his trade in Japan’s Top League with Toyota Shokki Shuttles and NTT Communications in recent years.

The 34-year-old has amassed 150 games and 963 points in Super Rugby.

In 2019, his fairytale return to top-level rugby was complete when he started at No.10 in the Wallabies side that put 47 points on the All Blacks in Perth.

That year, he earned his first selection to the Rugby World Cup in Japan, playing in four Test matches.

Source : The Roar More   

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Former Roosters player gets Scotland call up for potential meeting with boyhood hero Cooper

Australia’s former Sydney Roosters player Charlie Savala has found himself homing in on a dream of playing rugby union for Scotland against the Wallabies after switching rugby codes and moving to Edinburgh. The 21-year-old Sydneysider Savala is included in Scotland coach Gregor Townsend’s 36-man training squad, one of four new faces chosen ahead of their […]

Former Roosters player gets Scotland call up for potential meeting with boyhood hero Cooper

Australia’s former Sydney Roosters player Charlie Savala has found himself homing in on a dream of playing rugby union for Scotland against the Wallabies after switching rugby codes and moving to Edinburgh.

The 21-year-old Sydneysider Savala is included in Scotland coach Gregor Townsend’s 36-man training squad, one of four new faces chosen ahead of their autumn international series which will feature a Test against Australia at Murrayfield.

Though it’s still a serious long shot that this novice flyhalf could make his Test debut against the Wallabies on November 7, Savala’s promotion has been meteoric considering he only played his first match for Edinburgh Rugby in March after an injury-disrupted first season.

Savala, who qualifies through his Ayr-born father Scott, switched codes and joined Edinburgh last year after making the move from the Roosters, where he felt he wasn’t getting enough playing time.

A fine sporting allrounder at cricket, basketball and soccer in his youth, Savala focused on both rugby codes and AFL as he progressed through the age grades while growing up in Sydney.

He attended the Scots College where, under the guidance of former Ireland and Australia international Brian Smith, he began to concentrate largely on rugby, ultimately earning selection for New South Wales.

Savala then switched to join the Roosters on a two-year deal in 2018-19 where he was promoted to the senior squad before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet when his opportunities dried up in the pandemic, he was spotted by a Scottish scout after returning briefly to Union with Eastern Suburbs and took the gamble of a new career in Scotland, where he still has strong family links.

Savala has been compared to Scotland’s gifted British and Irish Lions’ flyhalf Finn Russell for his attacking flair, telling the Scotsman newspaper: “I do love the way he 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.”

In April, Savala told his Edinburgh club website: “It’s 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.”

Townsend has also named two South African-born players – flanker Dylan Richardson, who qualifies through his Edinburgh-born father, and prop Pierre Schoeman, who qualifies through residency – in the squad as well as England-born lock Marshall Sykes, who has a Scottish grandmother.

Scotland will face Tonga on October 30, before fixtures against Australia, South Africa and Japan on successive weekends.

Source : The Roar More   

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