Rona, Beale to start against All Blacks

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:24

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Curtis Rona will make his debut and Kurtley Beale returns for the Wallabies in the team named Thursday to face the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney this weekend.

Former National Rugby League star Rona, who plays for Western Force, will make his first international appearance on the left wing, while Beale will play at inside centre.

Force teammate and wing Dane Haylett-Petty was unavailable for selection with a bicep injury.

It is playmaker Beale's first international for the Wallabies since the 2015 World Cup Final against the All Blacks in London.

He will start a Test with a backline featuring flyhalf Bernard Foley and fullback Israel Folau for the first time.

Beale, who now plays for Wasps, has an extraordinary record against the All Blacks in Australia with two wins, two draws and a single defeat in five Tests since 2011.

Rona's inclusion is one of five changes, among them Sean McMahon, Samu Kerevi and Henry Speight, to the starting XV that beat Italy 40-27 in Brisbane in June.

Beale will partner Queensland Reds' Kerevi in the centres after Kerevi missed the June home Test Series with an ankle injury.

McMahon also returns to the Test arena at No.8 after a wrist injury sidelined him during the mid-year internationals. 

The All Blacks have dominated the Wallabies - losing only three of their last 29 trans-Tasman encounters and have held the Bledisloe Cup, symbol of trans-Tasman rugby supremacy since 2003.

The Wallabies will be captained by openside flank Michael Hooper following Stephen Moore's decision to retire from internationals at the end of this year.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Tevita Kuridrani.

Date: Saturday, August 19
Venue: Stadium Australia, Sydney
Kick-off: 20.00 (22.00 NZ time; 10.00 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Andy Brace (Ireland)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

Agence France-Presse

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