Beale at flyhalf, Foley benched for Wallabies v South Africa
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Bernard Foley has been benched to make way for Kurtley Beale to start at flyhalf for Australia in Saturday’s Rugby Championship test against South Africa.
The demotion of Foley, who started in all 51 previous test appearances, and the shift of Beale from center to flyhalf, where he hasn’t started a test since 2014, overshadowed the return from injury of fullback Israel Folau.
Folau had given himself only a 50-50 chance of being fit to play this weekend as he recovered from an ankle injury which forced him to miss Australia’s 40-12 loss to New Zealand in their previous championship match. His return boosts the Wallabies, who are coming off back-to-back losses to the All Blacks.
They take on a Springboks lineup with a reshuffled front row and midfield after its 32-19 loss to Argentina in Mendoza two weeks ago.
Beale’s selection points to a change in tactical direction by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who has also selected Matt Toomua at inside center in a new midfield pairing with Reece Hodge. Toomua’s call-up allows Cheika to maintain his two playmaker model.
“I suppose I just wanted to shake it up,” said Cheika, adding that he’d spoken to Foley about the decision. “We sat down and had a good talk about it. He’s not doing anything wrong in particular but I feel he could be playing better because he’s a quality player and he has shown that for us on many occasions.”
Folau’s return has caused a reshuffle at the back with Dane Haylett-Perry moving from fullback to the right wing.
Rory Arnold will join Adam Coleman in the second row in his first test of the season, with Izack Rodda moving to the bench and Rob Simmons being forced out of the squad.
Giant prop Taniela Tupou has recovered from a hamstring injury, displacing Sekope Kepu on the bench. But scrumhalf Nick Phipps has failed to overcome a rib injury and has been replaced on the bench by Joe Powell.
South Africa selected a new-look front row, re-organized backrow and reshaped midfield combination for the match.
Blitzbok sevens speedster Cheslin Kolbe is also in line for a test debut after being included on the bench.
Loosehead Steven Kitshoff and hooker Bongi Mbonambi will combine with Frans Malherbe in the front row, and and prop Tendai Mtawarira and hooker Malcolm Marx have been named on the bench.
Captain Siya Kolisi returns to the No. 6 jersey after playing on the opposite side of the scrum in the Springboks’ loss to Arentina in Mendoza in the previous round.
Pieter-Steph du Toit will start in the No. 7 jersey and Warren Whiteley will play at No. 8.
Elton Jantjies returns at flyhalf in place of Handre Pollard, who drops to the bench, while Faf de Klerk remains at scrumhalf.
Damian de Allende will have his first start of the season at inside center, resuming his midfield partnership with Jesse Kriel.
Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi on the wings and fullback Willie le Roux complete the backline.
Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus said he expects an improvement from the Springboks after their loss to the Pumas.
“We are looking for a good response against the Wallabies and I am sure that this side will be up to the task,” he said.
Erasmus also expected the Wallabies to be improved after their back-to-back losses to World Cup champion New Zealand.
“Australia, playing at home, will no doubt be highly motivated to bounce back, so we have to be ready for a huge contest,” Erasmus said. “We have worked hard to rectify our errors of last week and we know the set piece and breakdown battles are going to especially be important.
“The Wallabies are known for their abilities at the breakdown and we will have to be accurate and disciplined in those areas.”
Australia: Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Matt Toomua, Marika Koroibete, Kurtley Beale, Will Genia; David Pocock, Michael Hooper (captain), Lukhan Tui, Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio. Reserves: Folau Faingaa, Tom Robertson, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Ned Hanigan, Joe Powell, Bernard Foley, Jack Maddocks.
South Africa: Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk; Warren Whiteley, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff. Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Tendai Mtawarira, Wilco Louw, R.G. Snyman, Francois Louw, Embrose Papier, Handré Pollard, Cheslin Kolbe.