Kurtley Beale’s shift to fullback could solve more than one selection conundrum as Wallabies coach Michael Cheika continues to experiment just four games out from September’s World Cup.
Cheika was impressed with Banks’ efforts in the first Test since Israel Folau’s controversial contract termination, but said Beale had earned his shot.
“It’s as fit as I’ve seen him in a long time and in a difficult situation (with the team trailing) last week he made a lot of impact,” Cheika said of Beale’s second-half performance in Johannesburg.
And the versatile Waratahs’ return to No.15 – after a career spent shuffling through the Wallabies’ midfield – could also solve another problem as the coach persists with hard-running centre pairing Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani.
Cheika said a tweak in the game plan should allow Kuridrani to become more involved against Argentina after a relatively quiet afternoon against the Springboks.
“I wanted to give them (Kerevi and Kuridrani) another opportunity together; they’re good friends, they look good together and I want to give that pairing a chance to flourish,” he said.
Kerevi was one of Super Rugby’s most damaging ball-runners this season, but his occupation of the Australian No.12 meant most of the ball-playing fell to No.10 Bernard Foley in South Africa.
Cheika admitted Beale and Banks presented two different styles of fullback and in Beale they now had a genuine second playmaker, albeit at fullback, to take on the Pumas alongside recalled five-eighth Christian Lealiifano.
Beale would’ve liked to hear his coach confirm on Thursday that he had a license to unfurl his expansive brand of football.
“I’m certainly enjoying fullback at the moment,” Beale said.
“It’d be amazing (to be there for the World Cup); it’s a great opportunity to push my case and get the job done.”
“I back myself at the back, working combinations (and) … it enables me to pop in around the rucks or hold out wide and sniff opportunities.”
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