Young guns primed to fire fast in Australia-Uruguay shootout

Los Teros start with 12 players aged 25 or under, while teenage winger Petaia becomes Wallabies' youngest RWC player.

OITA, 4 Oct - A preview of the Pool D match between Australia and Uruguay, which kicks off at 14:15 on Saturday at Oita Stadium. 

The Big Picture

Both Uruguay and Australia have turned to youth for Saturday's Pool D clash as they pursue contrasting but equally pressing objectives. 

Esteban Meneses, Uruguay's coach, has revamped his entire back row, dropped his captain to the bench and picked 12 players aged 25 or under as he urged Los Teros to show the world they "can compete" with a Tier 1 nation.

Meanwhile, Wallabies' coach Michael Cheika has insisted he had no hesitation in handing 19-year-old winger Jordan Petaia his test debut for a match he knows his team "must win". 

Petaia is one of 11 new faces drafted in to the Australia starting XV, following their bruising 29-25 loss to Wales last weekend.

The teenager, who has played just 13 Super Rugby games, becomes the youngest-ever Wallaby to feature at a World Cup.

"There’s not that many guys that get to make their debut in a World Cup, so he is blessed with the opportunity," Cheika said.

The youngster will have plenty of experience around him with full-back Kurtley Beale recalled to the side to win his 90th cap. Dane Haylett-Petty, who scored against Wales from full-back, shifts to the right-wing.

Cheika has also beefed up his back row, breaking up the ball-scavenging Michael Hooper and David Pocock partnership in favour of "bigger bodies" Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Jack Dempsey. The former will play on the blindside with Dempsey slotting in alongside captain Hooper at number eight. 

In direct contrast, Meneses has chosen a "light, fast and very mobile" back row to try and ensure his team win enough ball.

In comes 21-year-old Manuel Ardao alongside 23-year-old Manuel Diana and the relative veteran Juan Diego Ormaechea, who will win his 30th cap. 

"Adding this new, fresh back row is hugely related to how the development of the match should take place," Menses said. "We are going to have to be first in defence and offence if we're going to get the better of our opponents."

Form guide (most recent matches first)

Australia: LWWLW

Uruguay: LWLLW


Played once - Australia beat Uruguay 65-3 in the pool stages at Rugby World Cup 2015, pictured top.

In the spotlight

Australia have been candid in admitting they are desperate to "start fast" against Uruguay after struggling to impose themselves in the early stages in their first two matches.

Against Fiji the Wallabies were 8-0 down after just seven minutes, and it was a similar story versus Wales, with the two-time World Cup champions 10-0 down with just 13 minutes on the clock. 

In contrast, Uruguay were swift out of the blocks in their momentous victory against Fiji. Los Teros were in the lead after just 14 minutes and got themselves 24-12 ahead before half-time.

While new captain Andres Vilaseca has admitted he is not expecting more of the same against Australia, he is adamant that his team must "focus on their own attack".

Team news

Coach Cheika has made it clear that this match presents a real opportunity for his players to stake a claim for a starting jersey and, given that, much attention will focus on half-backs Nic White and Christian Lealiifano.

The pair appeared to be Cheika's first-choice combination coming into the tournament, having starred in the Wallabies' 47-26 win over the All Blacks in August, but lost their places to veteran pairing Will Genia and Bernard Foley last weekend.

For Uruguay, Facundo Gattas remains on the sidelines after being sent off for a dangerous tackle against Georgia.

The hooker has appealed against his subsequent three-week ban but will play no part against Australia. Prop Mateo Sanguinetti, who started against both Fiji and Georgia, was also not considered for selection because of injury. 

Stats and trivia

Utility backs Matt To'omua and Beale are the only two players named in Australia's starting XV to have also started against Uruguay at RWC 2015. Strangely for such versatile players, they will also occupy the same positions on Saturday as they did four years ago - inside-centre and full-back respectively. 

Uruguay fly-half Felipe Berchesi is once again liable to be the key man for Los Teros. The 28-year-old scored his team's only points the last time these two sides met and has successfully converted all four Uruguay tries and landed three penalties so far at RWC 2019. 


"It’s a do-or-die game for us and it’s against a team that beat Fiji. Certainly, the days of old World Cups, where there are two different tiers, are gone." - Australia scrum-half Nic White is leaving no room for complacency. 

"Do we want to play these games more often? So, let's take this opportunity for it to be almost a formal request for more competition at this level." - Uruguay coach Esteban Meneses wants his players to lay down a marker. 

RNS ln/sg/ajr