Australia coach Michael Cheika puts faith in Jordan Petaia for England World Cup clash | Rugby | Sport


Australia have gambled on a 19-year-old making only his second Test start for Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final.

Queensland Reds centre Jordan Petaia, who was not born the last time the Wallabies won the World Cup, will become only the fourth teenager to play in a knockout game at the tournament after being called up in a surprise move by Michael Cheika.

”It’s going to be fast and aggressive and all that type of stuff but I know that lad will rise up to that challenge. I know it. I’ve seen it in him, so I know he will on Saturday,” said Cheika.

“Even though he’s young, he’s more than ready to do this. I trust him infinitely and that’s why he’s been chosen. I feel really happy about the selection we made there.”

Petaia, who has played just 13 Super Rugby games, toured Europe with the Wallabies last year but his Test debut was delayed because of a hamstring problem.

Another pulled hamstring at Australia’s World Cup preparation camp delayed the start of his tournament but after wing appearances against Uruguay and Georgia he has an unexpected chance in his favourite No 13 shirt.

England were wrongfooted by his selection but opposite number Henry Slade is hopeful they can expose his inexperience.

“I don’t know if that plays such a big part now because everyone in these squads is a top player and doesn’t get affected by things like that,” Slade said. “But if it is a thing then it will probably help us.

“He is a young lad but he is a very good player. I have seen bits of his game. He is a strong lad with good footwork and is strong in the outside channels so we know he will definitely be a threat and we have got to stop him.”

But Wallaby centre partner Samu Kerevi, who also plays Super Rugby with Petaia in Brisbane, warned England they are about to face a player who is destined to make a big mark on world rugby.

“I’ve had thoughts about Jordy since the first day he walked into our club,” said Kerevi.

“He just had that rare talent and now he’s really refining that, becoming the player that he is. He is going to be one of the greats.”

Australia will have Kurtley Beale at full-back after he passed his concussion protocols.

Australia: Beale; Hodge, Petaia, Kerevi, Koroibete; Lealiifano, Genia; Alaalatoa, Latu, Sio; Arnold, Rodda; Naisarani, Hooper (capt), Pocock. Replacements: Uelese, Slipper, Tupou, Coleman, Salakaia-Loto, White, To’omua, O’Connor.

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