Australia

Beale back for Wallabies

Tue, 12 Aug 2014 06:01
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The best squad possible to win on Saturday
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Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie opted for Kurtley Beale ahead of Bernard Foley as flyhalf for their opening Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks.

The Rugby Championship involves Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina - with New Zealand the defending champions.

McKenzie said the changes - including the move to start with Beale - were based on three key components - strong individual form since Australia's successful series clean sweep over France, a reflection of the style of Rugby the Wallabies want to play against the All Blacks, and those forced through injury.

"There were a number of extremely tough selection decisions, especially after the way the team performed against France," McKenzie said, after naming the side.

"However we're confident we've come up with the best squad possible to win on Saturday," he said of the match in Sydney.

"In the end, we've got a very similar group of players to those who got the job done against France, we've just modified some roles slightly to suit how we want to play the game."

It has been 12 years since the Wallabies last held the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy between Australia and the All Blacks.

In other changes, Adam Ashley-Cooper will shift from the wing to outside centre, while there is a new wing partnership with Rob Horne and Pat McCabe joining fullback Israel Folau to form a strong back three.

Two other changes in the starting XV see hooker Nathan Charles replace the injured Tatafu Polota-Nau and the return at lock of Sam Carter, who earned his international debut in the opening Test against France in June before an ankle injury ruled him out.

There was no room in the squad for former captain James Horwill.

Being dropped will be bitterly disappointing for Foley, the incumbent Australian No.10 who was the hero of the Waratahs' historic Super Rugby Final triumph over the Crusaders 10 days ago.

McKenzie said Beale had also enjoyed an outstanding Super Rugby campaign and his inclusion as the Wallabies' chief playmaker was a reward.

"Bernard hasn't put a foot wrong since we chose him in June, but Kurtley has really stepped up his game over the past few months and he's consistently been one of the Waratahs' best players every week," he said.

"He'll bring some additional x-factor to our game. We feel that will suit our two-playmaker framework and ensure we have the right balance in those positions along with Matt Toomua.

"Kurtley's also an experienced guy who has played 42 Tests, so he will enjoy the added responsibility of wearing the No.10 jersey."

"He's got a proven track record at the position at a provincial and Test level, and he has been involved in a number of important wins at flyhalf for Australia over the years.

McKenzie added that shifting Ashley-Cooper was primarily due to his form in that position for the NSW Waratahs.

"Shifting Adam from the wing to the centres has been for much the same reason - he's been in outstanding form for the Waratahs and was a real point of difference for them at the back-end of the Super Rugby season.

"Adam's never let Australia down no matter what position he plays and we know he'll enjoy the move to a position where he has had a lot of experience at during his career," he said.

"In the end, we've got a very similar group of players to those who got the job done against France, we've just modified some roles slightly to suit how we want to play the game."

McKenzie has announced an extended nine-man bench, with one player to be omitted closer to gameday.

"I've always been a big advocate of 'starters' and 'finishers' and I'm confident we have guys on the bench who can come into the game and make an impact," McKenzie said.

"A lot of tries are scored in those final 20 minutes and we've seen over the years just how clinical the All Blacks can be at that stage of the game.  We need guys who can withstand the pressure in those moments and also create opportunities for us as well.

"We'll consider our options as we progress throughout the week before finalising our bench later in the week."

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nic White, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements - from: James Hanson, Pek Cowan, Ben Alexander, Will Skelton, Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani

Date: Saturday, August 16
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 20.00 (22.00 NZ time; 10.00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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