sport

Beale has the 'x-factor'

Kurtley Beale has been named at fly-half for Australia's Rugby Championship opener against New Zealand on Saturday.

Beale gets the nod ahead of Bernard Foley, with Adam Ashley-Cooper moving to the centres and Rob Horne and Pat McCabe teaming up on the wings.

Nathan Charles starts at hooker following injuries to Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau, while Sam Carter is preferred in the second row to former skipper James Horwill.

"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," said Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie.

"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.

"He'll bring some additional x-factor to our game. We feel that will suit our two-playmaker framework and ensure we have the right balance in those positions along with Matt Toomua.

"Kurtley's also an experienced guy who has played 42 Tests, so he will enjoy the added responsibility of wearing the No 10 jersey."

Australia: 15 Folau, 14 McCabe, 13 Ashley-Cooper, 12 Toomua, 11 Horne, 10 Beale, White, 1 Slipper, 2 Charles, 3 Kepu, 4 Carter, 5 Simmons, 6 Fardy, 7 Hooper (c), 8 Palu.Replacements (one to miss out): 16 Hanson, 17 Cowan, 18 Alexander, 19 Skelton, 20 McCalman, 21 Higginbotham, 22 Phipps, 23 Foley, 24 Kuridrani