Injuries force Australia changes against All Blacks

Sydney: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has been forced to revamp his front row and gamble on an untested centres pairing for Saturday’s Rugby Championship opener against New Zealand.

Australia are desperate for a win at ANZ Stadium in a fixture that doubles as the first Bledisloe Cup Test, but were dealt a blow when loose-head Scott Sio failed a fitness test.

His shoulder problem means Tom Robertson has been drafted into the front row, alongside recalled hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and veteran Sekope Kepu at blindside.

Injuries to Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerivu mean Reece Hodge starts in the number 13 jersey for the first time, combining with Kurtley Beale in the centre.

There was some good news for Cheika, who is seeking to end a 15-year Bledisloe losing run, with skipper Michael Hooper and wing Dane Haylett-Petty overcoming injury concerns.

Melbourne Rebels utility back Jack Maddocks is in line to make his international debut after being named on the bench.

Australia (15-1): Israel Folau; Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete; Bernard Foley, Will Genia; David Pocock, Michael Hooper (capt), Lukhan Tui; Adam Coleman, Izack Rodda; Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson.

Replacements: Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Pete Samu, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua, Jack Maddocks.