MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia coach Michael Cheika sprung a selection surprise by dropping flyhalf Bernard Foley to the bench and installing Kurtley Beale into the playmaker role for Saturday’s Rugby Championship test against South Africa in Brisbane.
Australia opened the tournament with back-to-back defeats to New Zealand and Foley was among a number of Wallabies under pressure following subdued performances in the heavy losses at Sydney and Auckland.
Matt Toomua has been promoted from the bench to Beale’s inside centre role, while attacking threat Israel Folau has been reinstated at fullback in the squad named on Thursday after he missed the Eden Park match with an ankle strain.
ACT Brumbies lock Rory Arnold will start his first test of 2018 in place of Izack Rodda in the second row, while prop Taniela Tupou has overcome a hamstring complaint to grab a spot on the bench for the match at Lang Park.
Australia and South Africa have drawn their last two matches, playing out a 23-23 stalemate in Perth before being locked at 27-27 in Bloemfontein.
South Africa, beaten in Argentina in their last start, have not won on Australian soil since their 2013 defeat of the Wallabies at the same venue as Saturday’s match.
15-Israel Folau, 14-Dane Haylett-Petty, 13-Reece Hodge, 12-Matt Toomua, 11-Marika Koroibete, 10-Kurtley Beale, 9-Will Genia, 8-David Pocock, 7-Michael Hooper (captain), 6-Lukhan Tui, 5-Adam Coleman, 4-Rory Arnold, 3-Allan Alaalatoa, 2-Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1-Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16-Folau Faingaa, 17-Tom Robertson, 18-Taniela Tupou, 19-Izack Rodda, 20-Ned Hanigan, 21-Joe Powell, 22-Bernard Foley, 23-Jack Maddocks.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by John O’Brien)