Beale gets starting role against England
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Wallabies’ season of selection surprises has reached new heights with Kurtley Beale named at fullback and Ollie Hoskins primed for a shock Test debut off the bench to face England.
Both Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa have been ruled out of the Twickenham Stadium clash after exhibiting concussion symptoms on Monday after copping knocks the day before in a loss to Scotland.
It left coach Dave Rennie light on tighthead prop options, forcing him to shift James Slipper across, start Angus Bell in the No.1 and pair Hoskins with Tom Robertson as the front-row finishers in London on Saturday.
Not sighted in the Australian system since 2016, London Irish prop Hoskins has found himself in the right place at the right time to earn a call-up to the bench.
So too France-based Beale, who has remained eligible for selection under Rennie’s reign but only now been recalled for a 94th Test after injuries to Tom Banks, Reece Hodge and most recently Jordan Petaia robbed him of backline options.
Fellow France-based hooker Tolu Latu will also return to the bench while playmaker Noah Lolesio, originally left out of the squad before being flown in when Quade Cooper withdrew, will join him.
The selections come in a season that’s seen Cooper resurface to lead them to five-straight wins and a return to world No.3.
Overseas-based quartet Samu Kerevi, Sean McMahon, Rory Arnold and Will Skelton have also been surprise additions thanks to a relaxation of eligibility laws in a COVID-19-impacted year.
“No, and I didn’t imaging picking Ollie at tighthead prop either,” Rennie said when asked if he had contemplated naming Beale at fullback even a fortnight ago.
“You’ve just got to deal with it. The mood’s good, we’ve prepared well.
“Absolutely [it’s created the perfect storm for an upset win] but we don’t look at history.
“What’s happened in previous years is irrelevant; we’ve had a bit of a setback around tightheads but what we know with Slips is that he’ll [be] up.
“We need to get all the little details right; we know what’s coming, we’ve trained to deal with that and we see opportunities if we’re good enough to expose them, so that’s our challenge.”
Rennie confirmed Petaia’s tour was over, his hamstring injury bad enough to rule the supreme talent out for about a month in his latest fitness setback.
He also said Beale was the preferred option in the No.15, rather than retaining Kellaway at fullback and promoting wing Filipo Daugunu, because of his ability to defuse the many high balls they expect to come their way.
Slipper is no stranger to the tighthead position but will need to use all of the savvy procured in 112 Tests to power a scrum that had its issues against Scotland.
Rennie also said the team’s “shot callers”, led by James O’Connor who was hot and cold in his return to the No.10 last weekend, had carefully analysed where they had erred.
“We looked at all our option taking and connections and I think we’ll be better for it,” Rennie said.
“He’s [O’Connor] certainly trained well, he’s experienced and he’s smart so he’ll make the adjustments.”
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Tom Wright, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Rob Leota, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 James Slipper, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Izaia Perese.
Date: Saturday, November 13
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Kick-off: 17.30 (17.30 GMT; 04.30 AEDT Sunday, November 14)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Stuart Berry (South Africa)