SYDNEY: Coach Ewen McKenzie knows Australia must take risks if they are to bring New Zealand’s 17-game winning streak to an end on Saturday and hopes the surprise selection of Kurtley Beale at flyhalf will provide the spark in their Rugby Championship clash in Sydney.
McKenzie said he had opted for the mercurial Beale in the pivotal flyhalf role instead of the more solid Bernard Foley on the basis of Beale’s form towards the end of the Super Rugby competition and his test experience in the position.
Beale had played the entire Super Rugby season at inside centre for the champion New South Wales Waratahs and appeared to have found his most effective position in the backline after tests at fullback, wing and flyhalf.
Foley had impressed at flyhalf for the Wallabies against France in June but McKenzie said the All Blacks represented a completely different test.“I’ve probably got a longer memory than most people. I know he’s quite capable of playing that position,” McKenzie told reporters of his decision to give Beale the number 10 jersey.
“He’s played 40-plus tests, but he’s played a whole bunch of those in the 10 position.
“We recognise that playing France in June is different to playing the All Blacks in August.
“Against the All Blacks, you’ve got to go out there and have a crack ... we need to take a few risks.”
As part of a backline shakeup, McKenzie also moved Adam Ashley-Cooper into centre, demoting Tevita Kuridrani to the bench, with Pat McCabe taking Ashley-Cooper’s slot on the right wing.
Rob Horne has come onto the left wing for Nick Cummins, who was released from his Australian Rugby Union contract to pursue a more lucrative option in Japan.
“Adam’s never let Australia down no matter what position he plays and we know he’ll enjoy the move to a position where he has had a lot of experience at during his career,” McKenzie added.
McKenzie was also forced to shake up his pack for the match at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, with rookie hooker Nathan Charles thrown into the starting side.