SALTA, Argentina - Embattled Australia have recalled fly-half Bernard Foley and shifted Kurtley Beale to centre for their final Rugby Championship match in Argentina Saturday.
After starting in the first two matches of the southern hemisphere competition against New Zealand, Foley was ditched in favour of Beale. The experiment began with a win over South Africa in Brisbane, but subsequent losses at home to Argentina and away to South Africa have led to a change of heart by coach Michael Cheika.
Australian media had predicted a change at fly-half, speculating that Foley or inside centre Matt Toomua would get the nod. With Beale switching to inside centre, Toomua is relegated to the bench despite being the leading Wallaby scorer in the Championship with 21 points.
The rest of the team that started a 23-12 loss to South Africa last Saturday have been given a vote of confidence by under-fire Cheika. Australia, runners-up to New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup, are experiencing a disastrous season with six defeats in eight Tests.
Failing at home to Argentina last month demoted the Wallabies to seventh in the world rankings for the first time. There have been public and media calls for Cheika, who took charge four years ago, to quit or be sacked.
Reports have said former star scrum-half George Gregan could be added to the coaching staff as Australia seek a change of fortune less than a year before the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The match with Argentina at Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena in northwestern city Salta will decide which team suffers the humiliation of finishing last. Argentina have eight points from five matches and Australia five so the South Americans will remain third provided they do not lose.
Australia team (15-1): Dane Haylett-Petty; Israel Folau, Reece Hodge, Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete; Bernard Foley, Will Genia; David Pocock, Michael Hooper (capt), Ned Hanigan; Adam Coleman, Izack Rodda; Taniela Tupou, Folau Faingaa, Scott Sio. Replacements (one to be omitted): Tolu Latu, Sekope Kepu, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Rory Arnold, Caleb Timu, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua, Tom Banks