Foley back at flyhalf for Australia, Pumas make 7 changes
SALTA, Argentina (AP) — Bernard Foley has been recalled to the starting lineup at flyhalf for Australia’s final Rugby Championship match against Argentina on Saturday, while Pumas coach Mario Ledesma made seven changes to his 23-man squad.
Foley was benched for the last three tests as coach Michael Cheika explored an alternative playmaking partnership of Kurtley Beale at No. 10 and Matt Toomua at inside center. Beale will shift to No. 12 against Argentina and Toomua drops to the bench.
They are the only changes from the starting XV defeated 23-12 by South Africa in Port Elizabeth last weekend, a result that reduced Australia’s record this year to two wins from 10 games.
Argentina beat Australia 23-19 on the Gold Coast last month.
Cheika said it was not Toomua’s form that caused the changes, preferring Beale’s running game at inside center, and adding Foley’s response to being dropped had forced his way back into the team.
“I think he reacted to being left out with just turning up his own involvement around the team as a whole,” Cheika said on Thursday. “The playmakers have a really important role in driving everybody else, and I think Foley since he’s been left out has taken that on board.”
A loss Saturday would leave the Wallabies last in the Rugby Championship for the first time. New Zealand has already clinched the title and South Africa will finish second, regardless of the outcome of their match in Pretoria on Saturday.
Prop Scott Sio will appear in his 50th test for the Wallabies, while flanker Michael Hooper again captains the side on his 86th appearance.
Argentina lost 35-17 to the All Blacks last weekend in Buenos Aires. One of the biggest names returning for the Pumas on Saturday is winger Ramiro Moyano, who sustained a rib injury in their last match against the Wallabies and missed the New Zealand test.
Argentina: Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo De La Fuente, Ramiro Moyano, Nicolas Sanchez, Gonzalo Bertranou; Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Agustin Creevy (captain), Ramiro Herrera, Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini, Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Javier Ortega Desio. Reserves: Julian Montoya, Santiago Garcia Botta, Santiago Medrano, Matias Alemanno, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Tomas Cubelli, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Sebastian Cancelliere.
Australia: Dane Haylett-Petty, Israel Folau, Reece Hodge, Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, David Pocock, Michael Hooper (captain), Ned Hanigan, Adam Coleman, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Folau Faingaa, Scott Sio. Reserves: (from): Tolu Latu, Sekope Kepu, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Rory Arnold, Caleb Timu, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua, Tom Banks.