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Wallabies name new halves combo for blockbuster World Cup clash against Wales

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has made four changes to his starting side ahead of Australia’s Pool D clash with Wales at Tokyo Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Will Genia and Bernard Foley will re-unite in the halves while Dane Haylett-Petty will wear the No. 15 jersey as Kurtley Beale shifts to the bench.

Adam Ashley-Cooper replaces the suspended Reece Hodge on the right wing, in what will be the 35-year old’s 120th Test match and his 18th Rugby World Cup game.

The restoration of Genia and Foley at scrumhalf and flyhalf represents the most significant change in Cheika’s starting XV, with demoted duo Nic White and Christian Lealiifano the preferred options for the majority of the year.

The former Brumbies teammates have started alongside each other in three of Australia’s six tests this year, helping steer their nation to two wins against the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup opener and Fiji in their first World Cup clash.

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By contrast, the vastly experienced Genia and Foley have played just once together in the green and gold jersey in 2019 as the Wallabies secured an unconvincing 34-15 win over Samoa in their final World Cup warm-up match.

Their selections in the Wallabies’ biggest test of the year indicates that Cheika sees their 176 collective test matches worth of experience as a key factor in delivering victory for the world’s sixth-ranked side.

Such a result would likely see them avoid facing the winners of Pool C, and with most tipping title frontrunners England to top that group, attaining victory in this fixture will be vital.

The match is also a milestone for centre James O’Connor, who will bring up his 50th Test cap when he runs out against Wales, almost 11 years on from making his international debut against Italy on the 2008 Spring Tour.

Australia last met Wales on the 2018 Spring Tour in Cardiff when the hosts dug deep for a gritty 9-6 win at Millennium Stadium.

The Wallabies and Wales have enjoyed some memorable battles at the Rugby World Cup, having met six times at Rugby’s showpiece (Australia W5, L1).

The Wallabies will next take on Uruguay in Oita on October 5 before shifting north again to Shizuoka for the final Pool D clash against Georgia the following weekend.

Wallabies team to play Wales at Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo on Sunday 29 September, 4.45pm (local time):

1. Scott Sio (60 Tests)

2. Tolu Latu (16 Tests)

3. Allan Alaalatoa (34 Tests)

4. Izack Rodda (22 Tests)

5. Rory Arnold (23 Tests)

6. David Pocock (79 Tests)

7. Michael Hooper (c) (96 Tests)

8. Isi Naisarani (5 Tests)

9. Will Genia (106 Tests)

10. Bernard Foley (70 Tests)

11. Marika Koroibete (25 Tests)

12. Samu Kerevi (vc) (30 Tests)

13. James O’Connor (49 Tests)

14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (119 Tests)

15. Dane Haylett-Petty (34 Tests)

Reserves

16. Jordan Uelese (5 Tests)

17. James Slipper (92 Tests)

18. Sekope Kepu (107 Tests)

19. Adam Coleman (35 Tests)

20. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (17 Tests)

21. Nic White (27 Tests)

22. Matt To’omua (48 Tests)

23. Kurtley Beale (88 Tests)

– With Rugby Australia

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Wallabies name new halves combo for blockbuster World Cup clash against Wales