BRISBANE - Matt Toomua's return to the Wallabies fold has injected some much-needed competition, Kurtley Beale said Monday, after the Leicester inside centre's standout performance against South Africa.
Coach Michael Cheika took a gamble for Saturday's clash in Brisbane by axing playmaker Bernard Foley from the starting line-up for the first time in four years, introducing Toomua to the side and shifting Beale to fly-half. It paid off with Australia snapping a four-game losing streak to win 23-18.
The composed Toomua, eligible for the Wallabies again after signing a deal with the Melbourne Rebels for next season, following two years with Leicester in England, slotted in seamlessly. He finished with a 15-point haul, including a try, two conversions and two penalties to be named man-of-the-match.
"He's obviously a quality player and having him there has created a lot of healthy competition among the playmakers," said the versatile Beale, who took over the number 10 shirt from Foley to direct operations alongside Toomua.
"We haven't had that for a while -- probably not since Matt Giteau left (in 2016) -- but once you have that competition there you get the better out of each other. It's certainly good for the group."
Despite being axed, Foley took it his stride and helped Beale and Toomua prepare as best he could, leaving Cheika with plenty of options ahead of the World Cup next year. "Nothing really changed for him. That's the quality of player and person that he is," Beale said of Foley.
"He does a lot of work behind the scenes helping myself and Matty going into last week's game and having him there to help here and there certainly helped. He has taken it really well and he's a tough, resilient guy. He will bounce back in no time."
With the wind in their sails, the Wallabies turn their attention to Argentina on the Gold Coast this weekend after the Pumas were outclassed by the All Blacks 46-24 in Nelson -- their 26th defeat in 27 to New Zealand.