Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Beale set to start

Kurtley Beale has got the nod at fly-half for Australia
Kurtley Beale has got the nod at fly-half for Australia

Kurtley Beale will start at fly-half for Australia as they begin their Rugby Championship campaign against New Zealand at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

Beale replaces his NSW Waratahs team-mate Bernard Foley, who drops to the bench, for the Bledisloe Cup clash as Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie makes six changes to the side that beat France 39-13 last time out in June.

Fellow Waratah Adam Ashley-Cooper moves to outside centre after a fine season in midfield for the Super Rugby champions, with Ben Horne and Pat McCabe coming in on the wings as Pat Cummins departs due to his club commitments in Japan.

In the pack, Western Force hooker Nathan Charles replaces the injured Tatafu Polota-Nau, while Sam Carter returns in the second row after he missed the final two tests against France with an ankle injury.

McKenzie revealed that he agonised over a number of the changes after his side clinched their seventh consecutive win against the French, particularly at fly-half as Foley drops to the bench.

"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 told www.rugby.com.au.

"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."

Wallabies XV to face New Zealand: I Folau (Waratahs); P McCabe (Brumbies), A Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), M Toomua (Brumbies), R Horne (Waratahs), K Beale (Waratahs), N White (Brumbies); J Slipper (Reds), N Charles (Western Force), S Kepu (Waratahs), R Simmons (Reds), S Carter (Brumbies), S Fardy (Brumbies) , M Hooper (Waratahs), W Palu (Waratahs).

Reserves: J Hanson (Reds), P Cowan (Western Force), B Alexander (Brumbies), W Skelton (Waratahs), B McCalman (Western Force), S Higginbotham (Melbourne Rebels), N Phipps (Waratahs), B Foley (Waratahs) T Kuridrani (Brumbies).

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