Kurtley Beale in action against Argentina. Photo: Reuters / Russell Cheyne

SYDNEY - Curtis Rona will make his debut and Kurtley Beale returns for the Wallabies in the team named to face the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney this weekend.

Rona, the former National Rugby League winger, has replaced injured Western Force team-mate Dane Haylett-Petty (bicep) and will make his first international appearance on the left wing, while Beale will play at inside-centre.

The New Zealand-born Rona, 25, spent just one game on the wing for the Force this season and played at outside-centre for the rest of the Super Rugby campaign.

Coach Michael Cheika believes Rona's aerial skills honed in rugby league will negate the world champions' intentions to target the Test rookie.

"He's run there pretty much since we got into camp and he's looked comfortable there and he's got excellent chat from the outside in," Cheika told reporters.

"He's played on the big stage before in rugby league, so I'm sure he'll handle it, no problem.

"Curtis has been picked because he's a high quality player. He's really shown a lot of enthusiasm, aggression, hunger to be involved in everything."

Rona added: "They can say whatever they want but I know myself what I'm capable of doing and I'm feeling really confident coming into this game.

"I think I've done enough to be able to master taking the ball in the air and I'm looking forward to that."

It is playmaker Beale's first international for the Wallabies since the 2015 World Cup final against the All Blacks in London.

The 60-capped Beale will start a Test with a backline featuring fly-half Bernard Foley and fullback Israel Folau for the first time.

Beale, who now plays for London Wasps, has an extraordinary record against the All Blacks in Australia with two wins, two draws and a single defeat in five Tests since 2011.

Rona's inclusion is one of five changes, among them Sean McMahon, Samu Kerevi and Henry Speight, to the starting XV that beat Italy 40-27 in Brisbane in June.

Beale will partner Queensland Reds' Kerevi in the centres after Kerevi missed the June home Test Series with an ankle injury.

McMahon also returns to the Test arena at No 8 after a wrist injury sidelined him during the mid-year internationals. 

The All Blacks have dominated the Wallabies - losing only three of their last 29 trans-Tasman encounters and have held the Bledisloe Cup, symbol of trans-Tasman rugby supremacy since 2003.

The Wallabies will be captained by openside flanker Michael Hooper following Stephen Moore's decision to step down after announcing he will retire from internationals at the end of this year.

Australia team: (15-1) Israel Folau; Henry Speight, Samu Kerevi, Kurtley Beale, Curtis Rona; Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Sean McMahon, Michael Hooper (capt), Ned Hanigan; Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold; Allan Alaalatoa, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio. Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Lopeti Timani, Nick Phipps, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani.

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