Cheika gambles on teenager Petaia for World Cup quarterfinal
OITA, Japan (AP) — Australia coach Michael Cheika has gambled on teenager Jordan Petaia playing at outside center and has recalled Reece Hodge immediately after a three-game suspension in his Wallabies' starting lineup for the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against England.
The 19-year-old Petaia made his test debut at the World Cup, where he has played in two games on the wing. He'll join vice-captain Samu Kerevi in a new center combination, while Will Genia and Christian Leali'ifano were confirmed as Australia's preferred starting halves combination. Genia and Leali'ifano last started a test together in July.
To create space for Petaia, James O'Connor has been relegated to the bench, where he'll join Nic White and Matt Toomua among the back reserves. There was no space for utility Dane Haylett-Petty.
Michael Hooper will return to lead the Wallabies in his 99th test as Cheika persists with his backrow strategy of playing David Pocock, a regular openside, at No. 6.
Australia and England have meet six times at the Rugby World Cup, with each team winning three times. The Australians won the most-recent of those, a victory that contributed to England's group-stage exit at the tournament it was hosting.
But England has responded to that loss by winning the last six head-to-head meetings, all under the guidance of ex-Australia coach Eddie Jones.
The winner at Oita on Saturday will meet either defending champion New Zealand or Ireland in the semifinals.
Australia: Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Leali'ifano, Will Genia; Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (captain), David Pocock, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Allan Alaalatoa, Tolu Latu, Scott Sio. Reserves: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Nic White, Matt Toomua, James O'Connor.