Hodge at 10, Beale at 15 in reshuffled Wallabies side to play Japan
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has been forced to reshuffle his backline ahead of Saturday afternoon’s clash with Japan in Yokohama.
Bernard Foley (illness), Karmichael Hunt (neck) and Will Genia (calf) have all been sidelined for the historic clash against the Cherry Blossoms, in what is Australia’s first clash against Japan on Japanese soil.
Hunt injured his neck in the Wallabies final training session on home soil on Tuesday, and the injury was aggravated further on the nine hour red-eye flight to Tokyo on Tuesday evening.
Genia suffered a minor calf injury in the Wallabies win over New Zealand in Brisbane and is set resume full training next week ahead of the clash against Wales in Cardiff.
Nick Phipps and Reece Hodge will start in the halves while Kurtley Beale has shifted to fullback with Samu Kerevi to join Tevita Kuridrani in a powerhouse centre combination.
Phipps and Beale will also act as deputies for Michael Hooper in the absence of Genia and Foley.
Meanwhile lock Matt Philip is set to make his debut after being named on the bench, and in doing so will become Wallaby 915 and the Wallabies 25th debutant since the 2015 World Cup Final.
Saturday afternoon’s clash will also mark a special milestone for backrower Ben McCalman, who is set to earn his 50th cap more than a year since he last ran out in a Wallabies jersey (v NZ, August 2015).
Joe Powell and Curtis Rona round out the six-two split on the bench, as both aim to add to their two Test caps.