BRISBANE – Bernard Foley was dropped in a major backline shake-up by the Wallabies Thursday, who got a big boost with Israel Folau and David Pocock both declared fit for their clash against South Africa.
Australia have lost six of their past seven games, and ceded the Bledisloe Cup to New Zealand for the 16th consecutive year after a 40-12 hammering in Auckland and a 38-13 thrashing in Sydney.
Coach Michael Cheika has been under mounting pressure to fix his misfiring team and responded by relegating the ever-present Foley to the bench for the must-win Rugby Championship match in Brisbane on Saturday.
Kurtley Beale was selected to start his first Test in the No.10 jersey since 2014 with the 76-Test veteran directing the show from fly-half, with the experienced Matt Toomua promoted to inside centre.
In a further change to the backs, Folau returns after an ankle injury ruled out him out of the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland. The star fullback only returned to light training this week.
Key backrower David Pocock also defied the odds to be selected after being in doubt with a neck injury.
Brumbies lock Rory Arnold will start in the second row for his first Test of 2018 while "Tongan Thor" prop Taniela Tupou has overcome a hamstring complaint to take his place on the bench.
Australia and South Africa couldn't be split in their two encounters last year with a 23-all draw in Perth before playing out a 27-all draw in Bloemfontein.
The Australia team is (15-1):
Israel Folau; Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Matt Toomua; Marika Koroibete, Kurtley Beale; Will Genia, David Pocock, Michael Hooper; Lukhan Tui, Adam Coleman; Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio.
Replacements: Folau Faingaa, Tom Robertson, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Ned Hanigan, Joe Powell, Bernard Foley, Jack Maddocks.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)