Quade Cooper has dislodged Bernard Foley and will start as Wallabies five-eighth against the All Blacks on Saturday after a Bledisloe Cup selection shake-up from coach Michael Cheika.
Cooper’s inclusion is one of five changes made by Cheika following their disastrous first Test 42-8 defeat to the All Blacks, and arguably the most intriguing.
He was anticipated to come in at No.12 to replace the injured Matt Giteau but instead Foley will shift along to cover that role, with Cooper to make his first international appearance since last year’s World Cup in his favoured position.
The mercurial Cooper is coming off a mixed season, which included a stint with French glamour club Toulon as well as a failed attempt at making Australia’s rugby sevens team for the Rio Olympics.
The 28-year-old has also historically struggled in New Zealand, where fans have targeted him for abuse, but Cheika has clearly been tempted by his daring style and his partnership with long-time former teammate Will Genia, who remains at halfback.
It comes after Giteau (broken ankle), Rob Horne (shoulder) and Matt Toomua (concussion) all copped injuries in last week’s Bledisloe Cup opener defeat, Australia’s biggest ever loss on home soil, leaving Cheika with a dire shortage of backline options.
There is another new face in midfield with Samu Kerevi called up at outside centre, bumping the out-of-sorts Tevita Kuridrani to the bench.
Experienced duo Rob Simmons and Ben McCalman, meanwhile, have been dropped from the squad entirely.
Adam Coleman slots into the second row for Simmons, with Scott Fardy replacing McCalman to restore Australia’s usual back-row combination alongside Michael Hooper and David Pocock.
It is the second time in the space of three months lineout general Simmons has been dumped, having suffered the same fate during June’s three-Test series against England.
Cheika has also named a potential debutant, Reece Hodge, who is on the bench along with fellow inclusion Will Skelton.
Wallabies: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Samu Kerevi, Bernard Foley, Dane Haylett-Petty, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Adam Coleman, Kane Douglas, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (capt), Scott Sio. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Allan Ala’alatoa, Dean Mumm, Will Skelton, Tevita Kuridrani, Reece Hodge, Nick Phipps.