Dane Haylett-Petty has backed Michael Cheika’s approach of chopping and changing at the Rugby World Cup ahead of Australia’s final Pool D match against Georgia on Friday.
Cheika has rotated his squad in Japan, having made far few alterations during the last World Cup in England four years ago.
The Wallabies head coach has made 10 changes to the starting line-up for the encounter with Georgia at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, which the two-time champions will start knowing they are already through to the quarter-finals.
Haylett-Petty says Cheika’s selections are keeping the players on their toes as Australia prepare to face either England or France in the last eight.
The full-back said: “Cheik has, on purpose, picked a squad that’s really competitive, and while we’re really pushing each other to get better, we’ve been fighting for spots the whole way along
“He definitely picked and stuck a bit more in the past but that’s the strategy he’s gone with and I do think it’s working well.
“You’ve seen players given an opportunity and take that opportunity.”
— Wallabies (@wallabies) October 9, 2019
David Pocock will captain the side as Michael Hooper drops to the bench, with Jack Dempsey, Nic White, Matt To’omua, Kurtley Beale and Jordan Petaia retaining their places following a 45-10 thumping of Uruguay.
Australia look set to finish second behind Wales, who face Uruguay on Sunday.
For Georgia, scrum-half Gela Aprasidze replaces Vasil Lobzhanidze, while Beka Saginadze comes into the back row at the expense of Giorgi Tkhilaishvili following their 45-10 hammering at the hands of Fiji.
Georgia are second-bottom with just the one win in the tournament against Uruguay.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Australia – Matt To’omua
Toomua impressed after coming off the bench in the loss to Wales and made an impact from the start in the big win over Uruguay. He will switch from centre to fly-half and can pull the strings at number 10.
Georgia – Mamuka Gorgodze
Gorgodze will play his 15th World Cup match for Georgia, matching a record held by Merab Kvirikashvili. The veteran lock must prove he can still be a talisman in what could be his last appearance for his country.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the first time Australia and Georgia have met in Test rugby.
– Georgia have alternated between victory and defeat in their last five World Cup matches – winning two and losing three.
– Australia have won all 18 of their World Cup matches against non-tier one nations, their average margin of victory in those games a mammoth 46 points.
– Georgia have scored their most points (57) and tries (eight) in a World Cup campaign, their previous records were 53 points (2015) and five tries (2007 and 2015 respectively).