Rugby Championship

Wallabies surprise with Bledisloe selections

2017-08-17 06:40
Kurtley Beale (Getty)

Sydney - Australia coach Michael Cheika has named rugby league convert Curtis Rona on the wing and handed Kurtley Beale his first start at inside centre in his Wallabies team to play New Zealand in the Rugby Championship opener on Saturday.

Rona, who impressed at Western Force in his first full season of Super Rugby, will line up on the left wing after his provincial team-mate Dane Haylett-Petty succumbed to a bicep injury.

Beale returns to the Test side after a two-year injury-enforced absence with Cheika banking on his ability to link with fullback Israel Folau and flyhalf Bernard Foley, and present a genuine attacking threat to the world champions.

Australia have lost their last five matches against their trans-Tasman rivals going back to the 2015 World Cup final, Beale's last match in the green and gold.

Sean McMahon will take the No 8 shirt from Lopeti Timani alongside blindside flank Ned Hanigan and captain Michael Hooper in the team named for Sydney on Thursday. 

The towering second row combination of Rory Arnold and Adam Coleman is reunited, while erstwhile captain Stephen Moore takes back the starting hooker role from Tatafu Polota-Nau.

Hard-running outside centre Samu Kerevi also returns after missing the mid-year internationals and back end of the Super Rugby season with ankle and pectoral injuries.

Kick-off is at 12:00 SA time.

Teams:

Australia

15 Israel Folau, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Tevita Kuridrani

New Zealand

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes:  16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

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