Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says it’s unlikely Australia's three playmakers will all feature in the starting XV.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says it’s unlikely Australia's three playmakers will all feature in the starting XV.

Foley must fight for run-on return: Cheika

WALLABIES coach Michael Cheika says he won't manufacture an opening for Bernard Foley to return to the run-on side against South Africa on Saturday.

Instead he will enjoy watching his three playmakers battle it out for two starting spots as Australia search for a sharpness in attack and a way off the bottom of the Rugby Championship ladder.

The long-time No.10 was a second-half substitute in a win against the Springboks and demoralising loss to Argentina in the last fortnight, with Kurtley Beale and Matt Toomua preferred.

Cheika says he has his ideas of how that scenario will continue to unfold ahead of next year's World Cup.

But including Foley in the run-on side in a three-pronged attack with Beale and Toomua - likely at the expense of form fullback Dane Haylett-Petty - isn't one of them.

"I think Dane's been very good so I don't really think that would be a play right now," he said.

 

Three Wallabies halves into two won’t go: (L-R) Bernard Foley, Matt Toomua and Kurtley Beale.
Three Wallabies halves into two won’t go: (L-R) Bernard Foley, Matt Toomua and Kurtley Beale.

The Waratahs rock could still unseat either for the Port Elizabeth Test, with Cheika critical of the side's wastage in a 23-19 loss to Argentina that dropped Australia to No.7 on the world rankings.

"We have to be a bit more clinical around our attack," the coach said.

"Whether it's Bernard, Kurtley or Matt Toomua we have to have a consistency about us and take those.

"Do we want to build on the last two games of having that combination and throw them back in there?

"I've got a pretty solid idea of what I want to do, but we'll let it unfold."

 

Change will come regardless for the Wallabies thanks to Lukhan Tui's withdrawal from the touring squad after the death of his stepfather and the flanker's ugly post-game clash with a fan on the Gold Coast last weekend.

Pete Samu (knee) will also miss a month in a double back-row blow that has opened the door for one of Ned Hanigan, Angus Cottrell or Caleb Timu.

Cheika appears to be leaning towards calling on Hanigan's services though, admitting he liked what potential debutant Cottrell brought but that it would be a "fair bit to get his head around".

The coach also said captain Michael Hooper was back to full fitness after missing the Argentina clash with a hamstring injury, while Sekope Kepu will join the squad on Monday after the birth of his son.


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