Rugby Championship
Beale handed fly-half gig for All Blacks
ESPN Staff
August 12, 2014
Ewen McKenzie tells ESPNscrum about the Wallabies' preparations for the 2014 Bledisloe Cup series

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has overlooked Bernard Foley and named New South Wales team-mate Kurtley Beale at fly-half 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.

Australia's Kurtley Beale celebrates scoring a try, Australia v France, Suncorp Stadium, Auckland, June 7, 2014
Kurtley Beale (above) edged out Bernard Foley for the fly-half starting role © Getty Images

"Bernard hasn't put a foot wrong since we chose him in June, but Kurtley has really stepped up his game over the past few months and he's consistently been one of the Waratahs' best players every week," McKenzie said. "He'll bring some additional x-factor to our game. We feel that will suit our two-playmaker framework and ensure we have the right balance in those positions along with Matt Toomua. Kurtley's also an experienced guy who has played 42 Tests, so he will enjoy the added responsibility of wearing the number 10 jersey."

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.

McKenzie added that shifting Ashley-Cooper was primarily due to his form in that position for the Waratahs.

"Adam's never let Australia down no matter what position he plays and we know he'll enjoy the move to a position where he has had a lot of experience at during his career," he said.

The Waratahs' 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 scrum-half 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 Rugby 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 (captain), Scott Fardy; Rob Simmons, Sam Carter; Sekope Kepu, Nathan Charles, James Slipper. Replacements: James Hanson, Pek Cowan, Ben Alexander, Will Skelton, Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani (one to be omitted)

Will Skelton will start on the bench, with Sam Carter back in the starting XV © Getty Images
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