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Kurtley Beale doubtful for Wallabies' World Cup quarter-final as backline selection comes under scrutiny

Kurtley Beale’s health status won’t be known until midweek but the wellbeing of Australia’s backline play will come under immediate focus in their preparation for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

The Wallabies are unanimous that the forward pack deserve the plaudits for the 27-8 win over Georgia and that the backs face a week of introspection.

Coach Michael Cheika conceded the problems were “out the back” as they squandered a wealth of possession laid on by a dominant front eight, admittedly in wet conditions on Friday.

The last time Australia scored less points against a current tier one nation was in their 9-3 defeat of Samoa at the 1991 World Cup.

A similar lack of precision against likely quarter-final opponents England in Oita next week would probably prove tournament-ending.

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That sentiment was acknowledged by experienced outside back Dane Haylett-Petty although he quashed a suggestion the backs had failed to gel through all four pool fixtures.

“I probably don’t feel like that from the last three games, but I definitely think that (against Georgia) the forwards were the stars of the show,” he said.

“Out wide we probably struggled a little bit, especially with the conditions.

“You can see from the way we’re playing the game, we have probably the most passes going around in the competition because we like to use the ball. But with that comes errors.”

Cheika will have a headache finalising his starting backline after chopping and changing over the last month.

Winger Marika Koroibete’s dazzling solo try against Georgia continued his bright tournament form but inspiration is missing elsewhere.

Matt Toomua was direct at five-eighth but lacks the finesse of the world’s premier playmakers while Christian Lealiifano’s form has been patchy, although better than that of the squad’s other No.10 option, Bernard Foley.

James O’Connor is struggling to make an impact at outside centre but introducing Tevita Kuridrani there may reduce their creativity further.

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A grey area is the health of fullback Kurtley Beale, who failed a head assessment after taking an early blow.

He will be assessed by an independent doctor on Wednesday or Thursday to determine his availability, by which time Cheika may have already finalised a team.

Vice-captain Samu Kerevi said the early indications were positive for Beale.

“He has still got that buzz about him and beautiful smile that we like to see,” he said.

“I saw him at recovery and he is feeling good. His disappointment is more that he couldn’t be out there with the boys in the game.”

If fit, it could be that Beale misses out on form grounds anyway.

He has lacked punch in Japan and Haylett-Petty stood out at fullback in the loss to Wales when Beale was on the bench.

AAP

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Kurtley Beale doubtful for Wallabies' World Cup quarter-final as backline selection comes under scrutiny