Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has overlooked Bernard Foley and named NSW teammate Kurtley Beale at five-eighth for Saturday night’s Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks.
Foley is the incumbent Australian No.10 and was the hero of the Waratahs’ historic Super Rugby final triumph over the Crusaders 10 days ago, but has been relegated to the Wallabies bench.
Beale also enjoyed an outstanding Super Rugby campaign and his inclusion as the Wallabies’ chief playmaker gives the Waratahs four starters in the backline.
In other changes to the starting side that completed a 3-0 whitewash of France in the June Test series, Adam Ashley-Cooper moves from wing to outside centre at the expense of Brumbies No.13 Tevita Kuridrani.
Waratah Rob Horne and Brumbies utility Pat McCabe are the new wingers, with the Western Force’s Nick Cummins vacating his spot to take up a contract in Japan.
The only three players to retain their backline positions from the French series are fullback Israel Folau, inside centre Matt Toomua and halfback Nic White.
Foley and Kuridrani have both been named on an extended nine-man bench.
There have also been two changes to the forward pack, with Nathan Charles to start at hooker after Totafu Polota-Nau joined Stephen Moore on the sidelines with a knee injury, while Sam Carter returns to the second row in place of Will Skelton.
There was no room in the squad for World Cup captain James Horwill.
“There were a number of extremely tough selection decisions, especially after the way the team performed against France, however we’re confident we’ve come up with the best squad possible to win on Saturday night,” McKenzie 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.”
Wallabies: Israel Folau, Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Toomua, Rob Horne, Kurtley Beale, Nic White, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper (capt), Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Sam Carter, Sekope Kepu, Nathan Charles, James Slipper. Reserves: James Hanson, Pek Cowan, Ben Alexander, Will Skelton, Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani (one to be omitted).