A breather over continuity.
The Wallabies have ignored calls by former coaches Bob Dwyer and John Connolly to go full steam ahead and pick their best side for their remaining two World Cup pool matches by making 12 changes for Saturday’s must-win clash against Uruguay on Saturday in Oita (3:15pm AEST).
Prop Allan Alaalatoa, captain Michael Hooper and outside back Dane Haylett-Petty, who has been shifted from fullback to the right-wing, are the sole survivors from the XV that lost to Wales 29-25 on Sunday in Tokyo.
Stream the Rugby World Cup 2019 on KAYO SPORTS. Every match Live & On-Demand in HD on your TV, mobile, tablet or laptop. Get your 14 day free trial >
As previously reported, halves Nic White and Christian Lealiifano, who were surprisingly dropped for the defeat against the Six Nations champions after their first-up 39-21 win over Fiji, have been restored to the starting side.
Last Test starter Bernard Foley has been dropped completely from the 23 in the biggest indication that selectors have lost faith in the playmaker, who helped guide the Wallabies to the 2015 World Cup final.
In a further indication that Lealiifano will be the playmaker from this point on, Matt To’omua, who starred on Sunday after coming on in the 44th minute for Foley and was instrumental in the Wallabies coming back into the contest, has been named at inside centre to take on the world No 18 side with Samu Kerevi wrapped in cotton wool.
With just two halfbacks in the squad, Genia has been named on the bench along with last week’s starters Rory Arnold, David Pocock, James O’Connor and Adam Ashley-Cooper.
Teenage sensation Jordan Petaia will finally make his Test debut after being named on the left-wing after coming in for Marika Koroibete.
Petaia had been in line to become the third youngest Wallaby of all time last November against Italy but had to pull out with a hamstring injury.
He will still become the youngest Wallaby to play at the World Cup though as he runs on for his debut aged 19 years and 205 days old.
His selection injects some much needed X-factor into the squad and two strong outings in the final two pool matches could see him come into the frame for a likely quarter-final.
The wide-sweeping changes follow Cheika’s approach from four years ago when he named a completely different XV for their clash against Uruguay in Birmingham.
On that occasion, the Wallabies won handsomely 65-3 against the South Americans.
But former World Cup-winning coach Dwyer and Connolly were adamant that the Wallabies must pick their best side for the remaining pool matches and do everything they can to prepare for a likely quarter-final matchup against England.
“It’s easy — pick your best side,” Connolly told foxsports.com.au on Wednesday.
“We’ve got a draw from heaven in terms of a week, another week and then eight days until we play England probably.
“You pick your best team and your whole focus will be on the England game and that’s it.
“I mean, rotating your squad after four years, if you don’t know what you’re doing after four years, that’s it, you (should) know what your best side is now.”
Dwyer, who won the World Cup in 1991 and had Connolly as a selector, agreed: “I think we’ve seen enough to know who are the people that can take us through,” Dwyer told foxsports.com.au.
“I’d like the players they’re going to go with to get as much game time as possible.
“There’s no practice like a match so we need them to get as much time as they can, so from that point of view I’d like them to be quite settled.
“You’ve got to make sure that some other people get some game time too.
“But they’ve had enough time now to look at it to work out what’s right and go with it and pretty much stick with it.
“You’ve got to pretty close to knowing what your 23 are and work with them.”
Cheika, as well as co-selectors Scott Johnson and Michael O’Connor, have however decided that resting their stars is more important than continuity ahead of the knockout stages of the tournament.
Wallabies (15-1): Kurtley Beale, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt To’omua, Jordan Petaia, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rob Simmons, Adam Coleman, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper
Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Sekope Kepu, Taniela Tupou, Rory Arnold, David Pocock, Will Genia, James O’Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper