Despite the patchy nature of their opening win over Fiji and subsequent loss to Wales, coach Michael Cheika is expected to rest his key men and roll all his unused players into the starting XV.
Prop Scott Sio said he didn’t expect the selectors to veer far from what would have been a pre-tournament plan, one which has been employed by Australia at all of the most recent editions of the global tournament.
“I don’t think so. I think Cheik and them have been very steady in their plan,” Sio said ahead of Wednesday’s team announcement.
“I think it’s more about that squad mentality, making sure everyone’s ready to play.”
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At the 2015 tournament, Cheika made 14 starting changes for their pool match against Uruguay, which was won 65-3. Ironically Sio was the only starting player retained.
Versatile inside back Matt Toomua looks set to be handed the five-eighth keys on Saturday.
He could seal a regular berth there following two bright tournament showings off the bench and some modest outings from specialist playmakers Christian Lealiifano and Bernard Foley.
Uncapped teenager Jordan Petaia has recovered from a hamstring injury and is poised to make a long-awaited debut. But the question is where?
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 2, 2019
Cheika probably wants to hand talismanic inside centre Samu Kerevi a rest.
With Toomua likely to wear No.10, it could be that a specialist outside centre such as Petaia or Tevita Kuridrani starts in the vacant No.12 jersey.
Reece Hodge’s ban leaves the outside backs thin and may result in another start for Dane Haylett-Petty, who barely put a foot wrong at fullback against Wales.
Any run-on selection for Ashley-Cooper would set a world record. His 19th career start at the Rugby World Cup would lift him one clear of greats Richie McCaw, George Gregan, Jonny Wilkinson and Jason Leonard.
The pack should be completely rotated with the exception of the back row, where Cheika has just five players at his disposal.
The retained player could be David Pocock, who is in need of rugby after his long injury hiatus. He could also be handed the captaincy.
POSSIBLE WALLABIES XV
Dane Haylett-Petty, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Kurtley Beale, Jordan Petaia, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Jack Dempsey, David Pocock, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Adam Coleman, Rob Simmons, Taniela Tupou, Folau Faingaa, James Slipper.
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