The Kurtley Beale No.10 experiment has been aborted, with Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie naming his Waratahs teammate Bernard Foley at flyhalf.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie refuses to blame Kurtley Beale for the Bledisloe Cup debacle in Auckland but can’t find a spot for him in the starting line-up to play South Africa on Saturday.
Beale and Brumbies halfback Nic White have both been benched for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash with the Springboks at Perth’s Patersons Stadium in favour of the Waratahs’ Super Rugby title-winning halves combination of Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps.
Foley and Phipps came on midway through the second half during the 51-20 flogging by New Zealand in the second Bledisloe Cup match, immediately helping set-up Australia’s first try against the All Blacks in more than 140 minutes of rugby.
However McKenzie insisted Beale hasn’t paid the price for the Wallabies’ lack of penetration, and played down suggestions the experiment of him playing at No.10 didn’t go as planned.
“We put him in there against obviously one of the toughest teams to play against,” McKenzie said.
“There was good stuff in there, but we didn’t get the outcome.
“There’s lots of reasons why that was, but it’s not Kurtley Beale’s fault.
“We still believe we’ve got the right group of players, how we use them varies depending on who we think should start and who we think should finish.
“We’re still looking for the best combination.”
Other changes to the Wallabies’ backline include Adam Ashley Cooper shifting to the wing to cover for the retired Pat McCabe (neck), while Tevita Kuridrani has been called-up at outside centre.
McKenzie said while it might look like the backline had been shuffled extensively, it was the same group that finished last match.
“We’ve effectively ended up with NSW halves, a Brumbies midfield, and NSW outside backs,” he said.
“So there’s something there, but that’s just the way it’s unfolded – we deal with everyone separately.”
The only fresh face in the starting forward pack is the inclusion of fourth-string Wallabies hooker James Hanson, who has been called up after a season ending injury to Nathan Charles.
However to combat the abrasive Springboks pack, McKenzie has opted for a forward-heavy 6-2 split on the bench.
Lock James Horwill returns to the matchday line-up at the expense of behemoth Will Skelton, while Western Force captain Matt Hodgson and Reds hooker Saia Fainga’a get their first opportunities for Australia in 2014.
“Traditionally they (South Africa) are a forward-orientated side which uses their size, power and set-piece to put pressure on the opposition,” McKenzie said.
“You have to confront that head-on and match fire with fire.
“And the experience of James Horwill is significant.” Wallabies: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper (c), Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Sam Carter, Sekope Kepu, James Hanson, James Slipper. Res: Saia Fainga’a, Pek Cowan, Ben Alexander, James Horwill, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson, Nic White, Kurtley Beale.