Misfiring Kurtley Beale benched as Wallabies coach runs out of patience
Scrum-half Nic White also demoted for clash against Springboks, with Bernard Foley-Nick Phipps combo getting the nod
Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has run out of patience with misfiring halfbacks Kurtley Beale and Nic White, dumping them to the bench for the Rugby Championship match against South Africa in Perth on Saturday.
The pair started in Australia’s 12-12 draw against New Zealand and the humbling 51-20 return loss at Eden Park last month but have been replaced by fly-half Bernard Foley and his New South Wales Waratahs teammate Nick Phipps.
Foley and Phipps were instrumental in the Waratahs’ run to their maiden Super Rugby title this year and their encouraging performance off the bench at Eden Park heaped more pressure on McKenzie to act after Beale and White’s ineffective partnership in Sydney and Auckland.
"While the size of the challenge isn’t any easier this week, the South Africans do play a unique brand of rugby which we will need to adjust to," McKenzie said on Tuesday.
"That’s reflected in our selections somewhat, where we feel the partnership of Nick and Bernard will best suit the style of game we’ll be trying to play.
"They’ve got a proven combination at a Super Rugby level and we look forward to seeing how that translates into the test environment.
Omitted for the first two tests, former captain and lock James Horwill returns to the bench, replacing the hulking Will Skelton as the Wallabies chase their first win of the four-nation southern hemisphere championship at Subiaco Oval.
McKenzie said Horwill had been working hard to push his way back into the match-day squad.
"He will also bring the added benefit of giving us an additional line-out jumping option when he’s on the field," he said.
Horwill adds muscle to an already bulky bench with a split of six forwards and two backs aimed at countering the Springboks’ powerful pack.
"We’ve been really impressed with the variety South Africa has brought to their game in recent times, but traditionally they are a forward-orientated side which uses their size, power and set-piece to put pressure on the opposition," McKenzie said.
"You have to confront that head-on and match fire with fire. The addition of an extra forward also offers us greater flexibility in how we approach our substitutions."
The injured Nathan Charles has been replaced by James Hanson as starting hooker, with Pat McCabe’s career-ending neck injury shifting Adam Ashley-Cooper to the wing and promoting Tevita Kuridrani to outside centre.
Queensland Red Saia Faingaa has been recalled as replacement hooker on the bench with veteran Western Force captain Matt Hodgson named a back-row replacement.
Australia: 15-Israel Folau, 14-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13-Tevita Kuridrani, 12-Matt Toomua, 11-Rob Horne, 10-Bernard Foley, 9-Nick Phipps, 8-Wycliff Palu, 7-Michael Hooper (captain), 6-Scott Fardy, 5-Rob Simmons, 4-Sam Carter, 3-Sekope Kepu, 2-James Hanson, 1-James Slipper.
Replacements: 16-Saia Faingaa, 17-Pek Cowan, 18-Ben Alexander, 19-James Horwill, 20-Scott Higginbotham, 21-Matt Hodgson, 22-Nic White, 23-Kurtley Beale.