Beale set for Salta shift against Pumas

Wed, 03/10/2018, 07:00 am
Beth Newman
by Beth Newman
Kurtley Beale is likely to move to 12 this weekend. Photo: Getty Images
Kurtley Beale is likely to move to 12 this weekend. Photo: Getty Images

Wallabies star Kurtley Beale is set to return to the Wallabies inside centre sport against Argentina on Sunday (AEDT), with Bernard Foley and Matt Toomua to fight it out for the flyhalf spot.

Beale has played three consecutive matches at 10 in a new combination with Matt Toomua for a win and two losses.

Though the pair has shown improvement in recent weeks, Beale is likely to move across to 12 for Australia in their final Rugby Championship clash against Argentina in Salta on Sunday morning (AEDT).

No. 12 has been where Beale is played most of his rugby since returning from a stint in England in 2017 before switching into 10 for the Wallabies last month.

Just who the primary playmaker will be against the Pumas is yet to be seen, though, with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika set to leave that decision until later in the week.

Foley was almost unmovable as the starting flyhalf until a month ago when he was dropped back to the bench in favour of the Beale-Toomua combination.

Toomua and Foley have both trained in the starting 10 spot in Buenos Aires this week but a call has not been made on who will start.

Recently returned Toomua often steps into first receiver even with Beale at 10 but he has not started at 10 for Australia since his first two Tests back in 2013 against the All Blacks. 

Though most of his Test rugby has been at 12 for the Wallabies, coach Michael Cheika flagged the possibility of Toomua playing at 10 when the back first returned to Australia ahead of the Rugby Championship.

“I think he can play 10, where he’s been playing at Leicester, and he can play 12 as well but he’s a 10, I think,” Cheika said at the time.

“He’s been shifted to 12 often here in Australia because different players have been around and that combination might occur again but with the intention there to have a look at him in that position.” 

This will be his last Test opportunity until November's Spring Tour, with Toomua required to return to English club Leicester after the Rugby Championship finishes.

Toomua said on Monday that he felt last week’s Test against South Africa was their best outing as a duo but at the very least the numbers on their back will switch.

“I thought that was probably one of the better games that we’ve linked up in attack and we’ve got to keep building that,” he said.

“Unfortunately we all wish it was an overnight thing but it’s not, these things take time and it’s something we’re consistently working on so hopefully we can get a breakthrough, one with a result, and two with a good performance as well.”

Foley has come on at 10 in each of his stints off the bench with Beale shifting to fullback but that possibility has been all but ruled out as a starting combination this week, with Dane Haylett-Petty in super form at 15.

Last week’s move of having an extra lock on the bench instead of a specialist backrower is also set to be ended this weekend, with the Wallabies likely to opt for a more traditional bench.

Rob Simmons and Rory Arnold were both on the pine in Port Elizabeth but that is unlikely to be repeated in Salta.

With Lukhan Tui and Pete Samu not on tour, one of Angus Cottrell or Caleb Timu will come into the 23.

Cottrell would be making his debut if he was included in the team while Timu would be in line for his third Test.

Winger Marika Koroibete is also on track to recover from a concussion that ended his Springboks Test early.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will name his side on Thursday local time before the team flies to Salta.

The Wallabies take on the Pumas in Salta on Sunday Ovtober 7 AEDT, kicking off at 9:40am, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via Channel Ten.

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