Updated: Tuesday, 12 August 2014 12:29 | By Agence France-Presse

Wallabies opt for Beale ahead of Foley for All Blacks

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie on Tuesday opted for Kurtley Beale ahead of Bernard Foley as fly-half for their opening Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks.


Wallabies opt for Beale ahead of Foley for All Blacks

File photo shows Australian Wallabies rugby union coach Ewen McKenzie speaking to the media in Sydney in July - by William West

The move was part of a revamped line-up in the wake of Australia's series clean sweep over France earlier this year in what McKenzie said reflected the different style the Wallabies wanted to play against their bitter rivals.

"There were a number of extremely tough selection decisions, especially after the way the team performed against France, however we're confident we've come up with the best squad possible to win on Saturday night," he said of the match in Sydney.

"In the end, we've got a very similar group of players to those who got the job done against France, we've just modified some roles slightly to suit how we want to play the game."

It has been 12 years since the Wallabies last held the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy between Australia and the All Blacks.

In other changes, Adam Ashley-Cooper will shift from the wing to outside centre while there is a new wing partnership with Rob Horne and Pat McCabe joining fullback Israel Folau to form a strong back-three.

Two other changes in the starting XV see hooker Nathan Charles replace the injured Tatafu Polota-Nau and the return at lock of Sam Carter, who earned his international debut in the opening Test against France in June before an ankle injury ruled him out.

There was no room in the squad for former captain James Horwill.

- Bitter disappointment -

Being dropped will be bitterly disappointing for Foley, the incumbent Australian No.10 who was the hero of the Waratahs' historic Super Rugby final triumph over the Crusaders 10 days ago.

McKenzie said Beale had also enjoyed an outstanding Super Rugby campaign and his inclusion as the Wallabies' chief playmaker was a reward.

"Bernard hasn't put a foot wrong since we chose him in June, but Kurtley has really stepped up his game over the past few months and he's consistently been one of the Waratahs' best players every week," he said.

"He'll bring some additional x-factor to our game. We feel that will suit our two-playmaker framework and ensure we have the right balance in those positions along with Matt Toomua.

"Kurtley's also an experienced guy who has played 42 Tests, so he will enjoy the added responsibility of wearing the number 10 jersey."

McKenzie added that shifting Ashley-Cooper was primarily due to his form in that position for the NSW Waratahs.

"Adam's never let Australia down no matter what position he plays and we know he'll enjoy the move to a position where he has had a lot of experience at during his career," he said.

The Rugby Championship involves Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina, with New Zealand the defending titleholders.

Australia (15-1) - Israel Folau; Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Toomua, Rob Horne; Kurtley Beale, Nic White; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper (capt), Scott Fardy; Rob Simmons, Sam Carter; Sekope Kepu, Nathan Charles, James Slipper     

Replacements: James Hanson, Pek Cowan, Ben Alexander, Will Skelton, Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani

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