Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is considering unleashing a monster centre pairing on England as he comes to grips with losing attacking maestro Kurtley Beale to England and injury.
With Beale now out of the picture for next month’s three-Test series with the Six Nations champions, Cheika says he may turn to an all-power midfield duo featuring two of Israel Folau, Samu Kerevi and Australia’s incumbent No.13 Tevita Kuridrani.
If he does, Cheika will be playing at least one of the trio out of their specialist positions and most certainly straying from his successful use of Matt Giteau as a second playmaker at inside centre during Australia’s run to last year’s World Cup final.
“I’ve got a few different options there. Izzy’s been playing up front with the Waratahs,” Cheika said on Fox Sports’ Rugby 360.
“These days, we can mix and match at 12 and 13.
“We could also have our second playmaker at fullback and have more stinging runners in the centres.”
He said Brumbies pair Matt Toomua, if fit, and Christian Lealiifano were also in the midfield mix.
But what is certain is Cheika’s promise to blood fresh faces in the international arena ahead of the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship series.
“We want at least six or seven new players in this squad because we want to start building new talent who can contribute,” he said.
“Not just play – I know there’s a lot of players who can play – but players who contribute, make a difference, and have them play with experienced players so they can learn.”
Almost a week on from confirmation that Beale – who he loves like a son – was leaving the NSW Waratahs to join Wasps on a record-setting $3 million two-year deal, Cheika remains unhappy with how the English club handled the announcement.
“I wasn’t keen on the fact that they dropped that press release without telling Kurtley,” he said.
“He would have been down because he hadn’t had a chance to talk to (Waratahs coach) Daryl (Gibson), hadn’t had a chance to talk to me and I know they’d been putting a lot of pressure on him not to play Test footy either, which is happening with a lot (now).
“So that’s a lot of pressure for a young bloke to take.
“Unfortunately we’re not going to have him to play Test footy now because he’s going to be injured, but I know the lad’s very resilient and he’s going to be back better than ever.”
A bemused Cheika also had news for Wasps after hearing their director of rugby on Wednesday saying he wasn’t concerned that Beale wasn’t available to his new club until at least September because of a knee injury.
“If he’s going to be right in September, October, he’s going to be playing for us in the Rugby Championship. He won’t be playing for Wasps,” Cheika said.
“So I hope that’s the case. When they take these players, they know that.”