Australia recall Lealiifano, Petaia set for debut against Uruguay
TOKYO – Christian Lealiifano is back at flyhalf and teenager Jordan Petaia will make his Wallabies debut on the wing after coach Michael Cheika overhauled his team for Australia's third Rugby World Cup Pool D match against Uruguay on Wednesday.
The Wallabies will be looking to get back to winning ways against the South Americans in Oita on Saturday after their agonising 29-25 loss to Wales in Tokyo last weekend delivered a heavy blow to their campaign.
Cheika used the pool game against Uruguay at the last World Cup as a chance to give his squad players a run out and so the 13 changes were to be expected after he fielded his strongest side against the Welsh.
Lealiifano returns at flyhalf with Nic White at scrumhalf, reuniting the halfback pairing that started Australia's opening match against Fiji, where they were forced to come from behind to win.
Queensland Reds centre Petaia was a surprise inclusion in the World Cup squad but would have made his test debut last year against Italy had he not suffered an injury in the run-up to the match.
Another hamstring injury in the pre-tournament training camp dashed his hopes of a debut in the warm-up match against Samoa, but he is now set to become Australia's youngest World Cup player and first test player born this century.
Matt To'omua, who came on for Bernard Foley at flyhalf against Wales and sparked Australia's comeback, will win his 50th cap in the centres alongside Tevita Kuridrani.
Michael Hooper will captain the side from openside flanker with David Pocock making way for Lukhan Salakaia-Loto on the other side of the back and starting on the bench.
Australia beat Uruguay 65-3 at Villa Park in 2015 with To'omua among the try-scorers but Los Teros have already shown they will be a tougher prospect in this tournament, having upset Fiji in their opener.
Team: 15-Kurtley Beale, 14-Dane Haylett-Petty, 13-Tevita Kuridrani, 12-Matt To'omua, 11-Jordan Petaia, 10-Christian Lealiifano, 9-Nic White, 8-Jack Dempsey, 7-Michael Hooper, 6-Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5-Adam Coleman, 4-Rob Simmons, 3-Allan Alaalatoa, 2-Folau Fainga'a, 1-James Slipper
Replacements: 16-Jordan Uelese, 17-Sekope Kepu, 18- Taniela Tupou, 19-Rory Arnold, 20-David Pocock, 21-Will Genia, 22-James O'Connor, 23-Adam Ashley-CooperReuters