Wallabies favour Beale at flyhalf

Kurtley Beale will start at flyhalf for the Wallabies' Rugby Championship opener against the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday.

In a surprise call, Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie has opted for the 42-Test playmaker over his teammate and fellow Super Rugby champion Bernard Foley. The Waratahs flyhalf has been relegated to the bench, with McKenzie claiming the swop is simply down to Beale's outstanding form in recent weeks.

'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.

'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.

'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.'

His exclusion is one of four changes to the backline who did duty against France during the June Tests. Elsewhere, Adam Ashley-Cooper starts in his preferred position at outside centre, while Pat McCabe and Rob Horne will start on the wings.

Up front, the Western Force's Nathan Charles will make his debut at hooker, while Rob Simmons has recovered from the ankle injury he suffered against France to take his place alongside Sam Carter in the second row. Will Skelton will continue with his impact role, while there was no place in the match-day sqaud for former Test captain James Horwill.

Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nic White, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 James Slipper.
Subs (one to be omitted): 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Pek Cowan, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Scott Higginbotham, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Bernard Foley, 24 Tevita Kuridrani.

Rugby Championship teams (Round 1)

Photo: Matt King/Getty Images