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Wallabies make changes for final pool game against Georgia

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TOKYO -- Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and his fellow selectors have sprung a surprise for Australia's World Cup pool match, against Georgia on Friday night, with Matt To'omua handed the No. 10 jersey.

To'omua starred off the bench in both of the Wallabies' first two games in Japan, before starting at inside centre in the 45-10 victory over Uruguay last Saturday.

He has now been given the chance to nail down the No. 10 jersey ahead of the quarterfinals, with the returned Rebels playmaker selected ahead of Christian Lealiifano.

"He didn't play there at all in the last game [against Uruguay] but he's done really quite well there," Cheika said of To'omua. "He's a different type of player to, say, Lealiifano and Foley; he's a different style, he's a different type of defender as well.

"And he's done well in the opportunities that he's been given there, admittedly they've been in second halves when we've had a bit more of a direct line as to what we're doing and we want to try and start like that now. So we're giving him the opportunity to show his wares there.

"Christian on the bench, so we've got those two working in tandem in this game, just in a different order."

In other selections news, skipper Michael Hooper has dropped back to the bench in a straight swap for David Pocock, while Isi Naisarani and Jack Dempsey round out the back-row.

In the tight five, Scott Sio, Tolu Latu and Sekope Kepu make-up the front-row while Rory Arnold and Izack Rodda return as the first-choice lock pairing.

Nic White retains the No. 9 jersey while Samu Kerevi and James O'Connor are restored to the centres. Last week's debutant Jordan Petaia is retained but switches to the left wing to accommodate the return of Marika Koroibete.

"One thing's that I think is pretty clear with our team is that over the years we've been able to build a fair bit of depth, I think we've got a lot of competition with players that are very even in many positions," Cheika told reporters when asked about the raft of changes. "And I think the idea of giving everyone a chance to contribute [is worthwhile] .

"I know that different teams have different strategies in how they want to approach it, some want to go with the same players all the time and maybe rest out. But we feel like keeping players competing for spots is working for us, I think we're playing some good footy. And here's another chance for guys to do the same, guys who didn't play in the last game."

The battle for fullback continues with Kurtley Beale given another opportunity to impress after last week's outing against Uruguay. Cheika also said selectors were keen to have another look at Petaia after the rookie winger played only 40 minutes on his Test debut.

"I thought he [Beale] was good there against Uruguay, he created a few opportunities," Cheika said. "We might use him a little bit differently this week just around the attacking part of the game, just as a bit of a variation. But I think he's still got room to grow in his attacking game without a doubt, and he's really been training well; he's on cue.

"We obviously wanted to give Jordan Petaia some more time, so Dane takes the bench spot here. So we'll see how Jordie goes in this match and then, like I said, once qualified, the competition will be there and we'll be able to pick from the competition that we've seen over the first four games if we get there."

AUSTRALIA: Kurtley Beale, Jordan Petaia, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Matt To'omua, Nic White; Isi Naisarani, David Pocock, Jack Dempsey, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Scott Sio. Replacements: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Adam Coleman, Michael Hooper, Will Genia, Christian Lealiifano, Dane Haylett-Petty.