Michael Cheika has pulled a major selection shock for the Wallabies’ upcoming Rugby Championship clash against the Springboks by dropping regular five-eighth Bernard Foley to the bench.
Foley has been a constant presence in the number 10 jersey in recent times, but he won’t be there on Saturday – the day he’ll celebrate his 29th birthday.
Instead, it’s Kurtley Beale who’ll play at first receiver against South Africa. Matt Toomua has taken the inside centre jersey worn by Beale in the Wallabies’ previous two Rugby Championship games.
According to Opta, Beale has started at five-eighth for the national team in nine matches, only three of which have ended in losses.
36 – The @qantaswallabies have lost just three of nine Tests with Kurtley Beale starting at fly-half (W4, D2), with the play-maker having scored 36 points across his last three Tests in the #10. Responsibility. pic.twitter.com/kuRiiHHPnz
— OptaJason (@OptaJason) September 6, 2018
Moving Foley to the bench is one of six changes made by Cheika to the match-day 23 since the Wallabies’ last outing against the All Blacks two weeks ago.
Israel Folau has overcome the ankle injury which kept him out of that Eden Park clash and will line up at fullback, pushing Dane Haylett-Petty to the wing, Jack Maddocks back to the bench and Tom Banks from the team entirely.
Rory Arnold will start in the second row alongside regular lock Adam Coleman, Cheika deciding to move Izack Rodda to the bench and drop Rob Simmons.
Taniela Tupou has taken Sekope Kepu’s place in the side and will make his first appearance for the Wallabies since the June Tests having missed the first two Bledisloe Cup matches with a hamstring injury. The barnstorming Queensland prop will start from the bench alongside Tom Robertson and Folau Faingaa behind an unchanged run-on front row of Scott Sio, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Allan Alaalatoa.
Joe Powell and Ned Hanigan are the other two new faces in the match-day squad, the duo taking the bench places of Nick Phipps and Pete Samu respectively. Phipps sustained a rib injury in the Shute Shield final last weekend which he has been unable to overcome.
The remainder of the team is unchanged. Michael Hooper will captain the side in the number 7 jersey with David Pocock at 8 and Lukhan Tui at 6, while Will Genia, Marika Koroibete and Reece Hodge have kept their spots in the backline at halfback, winger and outside centre respectively.
1. Scott Sio (47 Tests)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (84 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (25 Tests)
4. Rory Arnold (15 Tests)
5. Adam Coleman (25 Tests)
6. Lukhan Tui (9 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (84 Tests)
8. David Pocock (71 Tests)
9. Will Genia (92 Tests)
10. Kurtley Beale (76 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (13 Tests)
12. Matt Toomua (35 Tests)
13. Reece Hodge (29 Tests)
14. Dane Haylett-Petty (23 Tests)
15. Israel Folau (66 Tests)
16. Folau Faingaa (1 Test)
17. Tom Robertson (23 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (4 Tests)
19. Izack Rodda (9 Tests)
20. Ned Hanigan (13 Tests)
21. Joe Powell (4 Tests)
22. Bernard Foley (60 Tests)
23. Jack Maddocks (2 Tests)