Michael Cheika was unwilling to discuss high tackling by Australia after their 45-10 victory over Uruguay in Oita on Saturday.

A routine Pool D success for the Wallabies came despite first-half yellow cards for Adam Coleman and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, while Michael Hooper and Kurtley Beale were also penalised by referee Mathieu Raynal.

Tackling issues have been prevalent during Australia's campaign, with Reece Hodge handed a three-game ban for his challenge on Fiji's Peceli Yato in their opening match.

The Wallabies wing stated he had "no knowledge" of the new tackling framework after he was cited for the hit, which World Rugby said "was of some general concern" when dishing out the suspension.

Cheika was angered by the decision and that criticism and was unwilling to tread similar ground after Australia's meeting with Uruguay led to questions on tackling resurfacing.

"I think maybe we can talk about something else to be honest," said Cheika, who discussed the fact Australia conceded 12 penalties to Uruguay's five.

"We're just giving away too many penalties, full stop, no matter what it's for, you can't be winning the game by 45 and still lose the penalty count.

"One was for kicking the ball out of a ruck. That's a penalty and we know that. We have to tidy that up.

"But I'm not going to talk about tackles. I'm going to steer clear of that."

Dane Haylett-Petty and Tevita Kuridrani touched down either side of a try from 19-year-old debutant Jordan Petaia in the first half.

Haylett-Petty and Kuridrani went over again in the second period, with Will Genia and James Slipper also getting on the board in a bonus-point triumph.

Jordan Petaia enjoyed a memorable debut as Australia bounced back from their loss to Wales with a 45-10 victory over Uruguay at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday.

The Wallabies could not afford a slip-up after going down to Wales in last week's Pool D blockbuster, and Australia returned to winning ways thanks to a bonus-point triumph.

Australia teenager Petaia capped his long-awaited international bow with a try as the Wallabies crossed seven times to one against a spirited Uruguay team in Oita.

The Wallabies – who made 12 changes for the match before James O'Connor was replaced by Samu Kerevi on the bench prior to kick-off – started fast, despite some desperate Uruguay defending.

Australia made the breakthrough in the sixth minute, with Kurtley Beale feeding Dane Haylett-Petty for an easy five-pointer in open space as Christian Lealiifano added the extras.

The Wallabies did not have it all their own way in the first half following two yellow cards, however, Australia appeared to play better with a man less on the field.

After Felipe Berchesi's penalty conversion and Adam Coleman's high tackle, Petaia burst through for a memorable try in the 24th minute – Beale's quick hands allowing the teenager to cross, with Lealiifano making no mistake in splitting the uprights.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto also found himself in the sin bin approaching the half-hour mark but Tevita Kuridrani sprinted clear to put Australia 19-3 ahead after Petaia fended off two players before teeing up his team-mate.

It could have been 19-10 at half-time but Tomas Inciarte's try was chalked off by TMO for offside after Uruguay had celebrated and lined up for the conversion.

Kuridrani scored his second try of the match to claim the bonus point, streaking clear after collecting the ball in the middle of the field six minutes into the second half.

Will Genia came off the bench to make it 31-3 to Australia eight minutes later, with Lealiifano adding the two points, before James Slipper barged his way over to end his wait for a Test try and Haylett-Petty claimed a double 12 minutes from time.

Uruguay's hard-fought display was rewarded with a with a try at the death – Manuel Diana capping a relentless spell of pressure and 18 phases.

 

A star is born

Petaia's debut was worth the wait. The Reds sensation – the youngest player to represent Australia at a World Cup – scored his first international try with his second touch of the match. Petaia also had a try assist in an impressive first half.

Slipper ends drought

Earning his 94th cap, Slipper had plenty to celebrate. The 30-year-old, who debuted in 2010, finally scored a try for the Wallabies as he was mobbed by his team-mates and given and a standing ovation by Australia's coaching staff.

What's next?

Australia will wrap up their group-stage campaign with a clash against Georgia in Fukuroi on October 11 before Uruguay meet Wales in Kumamoto two days later.

Trent Sainsbury has been left out of Australia's squad for World Cup qualifiers against Nepal and Chinese Taipei due to injury as captain Mark Milligan returns.

Maccabi Haifa defender Sainsbury, 27, is managing a "minor injury", ruling him out of the Group B clashes.

Australia started the second round of qualifying with a 3-0 win over Kuwait and are boosted by the return of Milligan.

"Our group did very well in their first qualifier away from home, so I am pleased to be able [to] maintain significant consistency within the squad as we seek to build upon our strong start to qualifying for Qatar," Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold said.

"Trent is managing a minor injury but remains on standby for the squad should we need to call him in. Bailey [Wright] is a big part of our plans and a great player and person to have in the squad, so we are pleased that he will be with us this month.

"Many of the players in our squad for this window have impressed with their clubs since our win in Kuwait, so we are confident that they will arrive ready to put on great performances both home and away."

The Socceroos face Nepal in Canberra on Thursday before taking on Chinese Taipei in Kaohsiung five days later.

Meanwhile, Sydney FC duo Rhyan Grant and Andrew Redmayne and Melbourne City forward Jamie Maclaren will miss the opening round of the A-League, their sides facing Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory respectively.

Australia: Mitchell Langerak (Nagoya Grampus), Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Mat Ryan (Brighton and Hove Albion); Aziz Behich (Istanbul Basaksehir), Milos Degenek (Red Star Belgrade), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders), Harry Souttar (Fleetwood Town), Bailey Wright (Bristol City); Mustafa Amini (AGF Aarhus), Ajdin Hrustic (Groningen), Jackson Irvine (Hull City), James Jeggo (Austria Vienna), Massimo Luongo (Sheffield Wednesday), Mark Milligan (Southend United), Aaron Mooy (Brighton and Hove Albion); Brandon Borrello (Freiburg), Apostolos Giannou (AEK Larnaca), Craig Goodwin (Al-Wehda), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Awer Mabil (Midtjylland), Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City), Adam Taggart (Suwon Bluewings).

James Slipper says Australia are treating the coming days as "Grand Final week" as they prepare to do battle with Uruguay at the Rugby World Cup.

A rousing fightback was unable to prevent the Wallabies from suffering a 29-25 defeat to Wales last Sunday.

Australia are now third with two Pool D matches to play and prop Slipper knows they have to come out firing from the start when they take on Uruguay at Oita Stadium on Saturday.

"It's obviously disappointing with the result we had [against Wales], but essentially now it's Grand Final week for us," said Slipper.

"Both teams have to win. We're preparing like that every game. So, for us, it's just about getting back into work, training hard, making sure we come out and win the game."

Jordan Petaia will make history by becoming the youngest Australia player to feature in a World Cup match at the age of 19 after Michael Cheika opted to make 12 changes to his starting line-up.

Matt Toomua also comes into the side for his 50th Test cap after impressing off the bench against the Six Nations champions and the centre is backing teenage wing Petaia to show what the hype is about.

"More so than any other young player, he is just as competent on both sides of the ball: attack and defence. It's not often you say that about young guys. They might have a wicked sidestep or something but Jordy likes getting in the rough and tumble stuff, which is brilliant," said Toomua.

Esteban Meneses has made nine alterations to the Uruguay line-up following a heavy loss to Georgia, with centre Andres Vilaseca named captain as Juan Manuel Gaminara drops to the bench.

Facundo Gattas was given a three-match ban for a dangerous tackle in the 33-7 defeat to Georgia and will learn whether he has been successful with an appeal on Friday.
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Australia - Christian Lealiifano

Lealiifano replaces Bernard Foley at fly-half, having been surprisingly dropped for the Wales game. The playmaker can seize his chance to show he should keep the number 10 jersey by getting the Wallabies ticking.

Uruguay - Rodrigo Silva

Silva switches from the left wing to full-back and Uruguay will need him to make that a seamless transition as Australia look to pile on the pressure from the start.
 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Australia and Uruguay's only previous Test meeting came at the last World Cup, with the Wallabies dishing out a 65-3 drubbing. 
- Uruguay's 30-27 victory over Fiji in their opening match of the competition was the first time they had defeated a team from Oceania at a World Cup.
- The Wallabies have trailed at half-time in each of their first two pool matches. Prior to this tournament, they had been behind at the break in only one World Cup pool game - against South Africa in 1995.
- Toomua's 61 metres gained, five defenders beaten and two offloads against Wales were more than he had achieved in any of his previous seven World Cup matches.

Teenager Jordan Petaia will benefit from playing alongside Dane Haylett-Petty and Kurtley Beale when he makes his Australia debut at the Rugby World Cup, according to Michael Cheika.

Petaia is set to make start on Saturday in the Wallabies' Pool D clash with minnows Uruguay, for which Cheika has made 12 changes to his starting XV.

The Reds back will become the youngest Australian to play at a World Cup, with the 19-year-old's wait for his debut extended by hamstring injuries that kept him out of games with Italy and Samoa in November and September respectively.

He missed almost all of the 2019 Super Rugby season due to a foot problem, but the clash in Oita will see Petaia become the first Australian to make his international bow at a World Cup since Berrick Barnes in 2007.

"I think he has got a lot of talent, Jordan, and we will see it for the first time," Australia coach Cheika said at a media conference. "This is the first game ever I will have been able to be involved with him in a game.

"He is just starting out, so we will let him get into the flow and see how he feels. He has a couple of very experienced campaigners next to him in Dane and Kurtley so he will have plenty of experience around him to talk him through.

"But he is a good young man and a good young player and I am sure he will love it running out there at the weekend."

Fly-half Bernard Foley is not included in the squad to face Uruguay having received criticism for an error-strewn performance in the Wallabies' defeat to Wales last time out.

"Bernard - I think he struggled a little bit on the weekend. No doubt about that," Cheika said.

"Christian [Lealiifano], he found his feet pretty well in the Test matches this year. Matt To'omua has played pretty well there as well, finishing for us.

"So, Bernard is working hard on getting himself back into the team. He has been training hard. He did some good things at the weekend, some things he would want to improve on."

Jordan Petaia will become the youngest player to represent Australia at the Rugby World Cup after being named to debut in the Wallabies' must-win game against Uruguay.

Petaia, 19, will make his international bow in Oita on Saturday and break the record held by Joe Roff since his appearance against Canada in a pool match at the 1995 edition.

The highly rated teenager also becomes the first Australian to debut in a World Cup since Berrick Barnes in 2007.

It is a long-awaited first cap for Petaia, who was set to make his maiden appearance against Italy last year before a hamstring injury delayed his bow for the 2015 World Cup runners-up.

The uncapped winger's selection is part of 12 changes to the starting XV following last weekend's 29-25 defeat to Wales in Tokyo – captain Michael Hooper, Dane Haylett-Petty and Allan Alaalatoa the only survivors from the Pool D blockbuster.

Nic White and Christian Lealiifano, who were surprisingly dropped for the Wales match having played in the opening victory over Fiji, have been restored to Michael Cheika's line-up.

Matt To'omua will start at 12 following two impressive performances off the bench, but there is no place for playmaker Bernard Foley in the matchday squad as David Pocock is named among the replacements.

Folau Fainga'a, Jack Dempsey and Tevita Kuridrani also come into the starting side, with James Slipper, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Kurtley Beale elevated from the bench.

Australia are second in Pool D after two games, three points adrift of leaders Wales and a point above Georgia with two fixtures remaining.

 

Australia: Kurtley Beale, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt To'omua, Jordan Petaia, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White; James Slipper, Folau Fainga'a, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Adam Coleman, Luke Salakaia-Loto, Michael Hooper, Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: Jordan Uelese, Sekope Kepu, Taniela Tupou, Rory Arnold, David Pocock, Will Genia, James O'Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Warren Gatland realises the importance of Wales following up an impressive victory against Australia by performing well in their remaining Pool D matches.

Wales took control of their Rugby World Cup group by clinging on against the Wallabies and earning a hard-fought 29-25 win.

Gatland's side are expected to challenge for a first title at this tournament, yet the coach is first focused on ensuring they do not "take anyone lightly" prior to the knockout stages.

Wales face Fiji and then Uruguay in a pair of fixtures they will be expected to win.

"It was a tough game [against Australia] and a victory. It's confidence boosting hopefully for the next couple of games," he told a news conference. "We think they're going to be tough.

"Fiji will be hurting and we saw how well they played against Australia in the first half of that first game. We can't take anyone lightly in this group.

"It's important for us that we make sure we prepare in the best way that we possibly can and that we don't take any team or any performance for granted.

"We have to be as clinical as we possibly can be because that's what good teams do. They make sure that they are clinical and they are accurate.

"If we are to be considered a good team, we have got to play well in these next two matches."

Wales were waiting to see how Dan Biggar recovered after a failed head injury assessment, but Gatland was optimistic Liam Williams would be fit after rolling his ankle.

"We'll need to make sure we recover," Gatland said. "We've got nine or 10 days until our next match.

"We'll use that in the best way we possibly can to freshen up the guys and make sure we take a little time. It's nice getting a decent break before our next match against Fiji."

Meanwhile, opposite number Michael Cheika was not receptive to discussing Wales' chances when he was asked for an assessment at his own spiky news conference.

"I don't think that's really for me to talk about, is it? We've played our game against them and move onto the next game," he said.

"They won, now move onto the next game. It's not my place to talk about who's going to win and who's not."

Michael Cheika claimed decisions at the Rugby World Cup are making him "embarrassed" and question his own knowledge of the laws after feeling Australia were let down by officials again.

The Wallabies had seen Reece Hodge suspended for three matches in the build-up to playing Wales, having been cited for a dangerous tackle against Fiji.

That challenge and the subsequent hearing prompted a public debate in which Hodge took issue with those criticising his supposed lack of knowledge of the "high tackle decision making framework".

Australia were then frustrated to see an apparent high tackle from Rhys Patchell on Samu Kerevi that instead saw the Wallabies man penalised for use of the forearm in the carry.

Cheika outlined his issues with the incident in a post-match news conference.

He also claimed "administrators are spooking referees" due to their awarding of suspensions after the fact, while the coach was bemused to hear England's Piers Francis had evaded a ban at his own hearing.

"It was pretty funny because I thought I'd seen that [Patchell] tackle before," Cheika said. "It could have been Reece Hodge...

"I'm not sure. But when our guy makes that tackle and has the high-tackle framework in his head, he gets suspended. When this guy doesn't think about the high-tackle framework, we get penalised.

"You've seen it. As a former player, I'm embarrassed about that."

He added: "I don't know the rules anymore. Honestly, I don't know the rules anymore.

"They all seem spooked. Everyone seems worried about stuff so much. I'm not sure why they're worried - players aren't worried.

"Then it's affecting everything else on the field as well, decisions on all types of crazy stuff. Then I hear that the English guy got off at the suspension thing. Wow.

"I've not said anything there, have I? It just shows if you're not confused, maybe the floodlights going out at the end was a symbol.

"The administrators are spooking referees. The referees are worried about making the wrong decisions and they're becoming ultra cautious about everything, and it's not inviting to the fans.

"Why should we be having booing out there in a game like that with those types of crowds? There shouldn't be people booing - and they're not booing the players either. That shouldn't be happening."

Asked if rugby was becoming "soft", Cheika replied: "It's a tough one, right? Very tough.

"You've got to take care and look after players but not to an extreme where you're just looking after players for doctors and lawyers. Look after players for players."

Australia captain Michael Hooper conceded the Wallabies left themselves with too much to do against Wales after a poor first half on Sunday.

In what will surely be the key fixture in Pool D at the Rugby World Cup, Wales got the better of a strong-finishing Australia 29-25, having led 23-8 at the break.

Tries from Dane Haylett-Petty and Hooper himself set up a tense finish, but the Wallabies could not quite wrestle back control of the match.

Hooper was disappointed but keen to move on quickly, knowing Australia cannot afford to spend too long reflecting on a defeat that likely sends them into the same side of the draw as England and New Zealand.

"It was a close game between two very willing teams and it came down to the wire," he said.

"It was 17-6 [in the second half] - we had the momentum, we just gave away too many in the first half. In particular the back-to-back points really hurt us.

"Congratulations to Wales for holding us out.

"We'll review it now. Recovery is key. We'll review it pretty hard, but in this format of competition, you've got to move on pretty quickly."

Coach Michael Cheika offered a blunt assessment of Australia's defeat, adding: "What went wrong? We just lost by a couple of points - it was a tight contest and that's the way it goes sometimes."

Warren Gatland was delighted to see Wales edge past Australia in a bruising Rugby World Cup encounter he acknowledged they might well have lost previously.

The Six Nations Grand Slam champions raced out to a 23-8 half-time lead before Australia built momentum in the second period and set up a nervy finish with tries from Dane Haylett-Petty and Michael Hooper.

But Wales clung on to take a 29-25 victory and seize control of Pool D, potentially avoiding England and New Zealand in the quarter-finals and semis.

Gatland saw this as the type of clash Wales would have come up short in prior to the last 12 months in which they have forged a steely reputation, also beating Australia in a Test last November.

"It was pretty special," he told ITV Sport. "It was a good first half and we hung on in the second half.

"Australia came at us and the boys are pretty sore and battered in the changing rooms. It was a really tough physical game - and those are the ones in the past that we've been losing.

"It was nice to hold on at the end and I thought our bench were fantastic and gave us some real momentum and fresh legs when we needed them."

He added: "We're really pleased to get that win - it takes a little of the pressure off us. Now we're kind of in control of our own destiny in terms of what happens."

Alun Wyn Jones, making a record 130th appearance, praised Wales' character but was slightly concerned by another "tentative" second half.

Wales had similarly built a big lead against Georgia before slowing after the break, their 29-point half-time advantage failing to increase as they won 43-14.

"I'm pretty happy with the character we showed - particularly in the second half," Jones said.

"At times, it did feel a bit like the Georgia game, where we had a great first half and were a bit tentative in the second half. We'll have a look at that, but I'm pleased with the result."

Wales were beaten in three of their four Rugby World Cup warm-up matches, but this, a pool game against Australia, was different.

The expectation had been building for some time, with the winners almost certain to top Pool D and therefore avoid a daunting path through the tournament that would likely include England in the quarter-finals and New Zealand in the semis.

"If Wales can win [against Australia] then I expect them to do good things," former captain Sam Warburton told Omnisport.

And just as at the Six Nations, where they celebrated a stunning Grand Slam triumph, Wales stepped up when it mattered most and just about got the job done against regular World Cup foes.

Wales had been beaten by the Wallabies at three consecutive World Cups but ended that run in battling fashion, having also scraped through in the same fixture last November for their first victory over Australia in almost 10 years.

Warren Gatland's side have become the men for the big occasion over the past 12 months and yet may not now have to play an elite side again until the semi-finals.

Perhaps this result says more about Australia, who attempted a brave fightback but won just four Tests in 2018. Michael Cheika's side did not lack for courage but some basic errors at key times meant their World Cup chances took a major hit.

If Wales are to become just the second team - after England in 2003 - to follow up a Six Nations or Rugby Championship success by becoming world champions, it was vital to end their Australia hoodoo listed below.
 

2007: Wales 20-32 AUSTRALIA (pool stage)

After consecutive quarter-final appearances in the prior two finals, Wales would have expected to progress from their pool in 2007. But they were hit by a setback when Australia tore through them in a brutal first-half showing.

The Welsh were 25-3 down at the break and left to tussle with Fiji for second place. A painful late defeat to the Flying Fijians in their final pool match resulted in an early exit.


2011: Wales 18-21 AUSTRALIA (bronze final)

Wales got revenge over Fiji four years later with a pool-stage thrashing but they could not get one over Australia. They avoided the Wallabies in a run to the semi-finals, but the sides' respective defeats to France and New Zealand set up a bronze final meeting.

The Welsh attack could not fire as it had earlier in the tournament and Australia eased to victory, with Leigh Halfpenny's try rescoring some balance to the scoreline but coming far too late.


2015: AUSTRALIA 15-6 Wales (pool stage)

Neither Australia nor Wales were the big-name casualties in a packed Pool A, as England fell at the first hurdle on home turf, but a Twickenham clash to close their pool campaigns would decide who topped the group.

There was not a single try but Bernard Foley's boot proved the difference as the Wallabies defended doggedly, avoiding South Africa in the last eight and enjoying a run all the way to the final. The Springboks dumped out Wales, who could understandably be sick of the sight of Australia by this stage.


2019: Australia 25-29 WALES (pool stage)

Coming into their second pool match as Six Nations Grand Slam champions and having beaten Australia less than 12 months previously, Wales were finally ready to best the Wallabies on the big stage, with the boots of Dan Biggar and Rhys Patchell this time crucial.

Wales had to withstand second-half pressure but got the job done and might now be able to target a serious push for the title...

Wales took a huge step towards topping Pool D at the Rugby World Cup with a nail-biting 29-25 win over a fast-finishing over Australia in Tokyo.

First-half tries from Hadleigh Parks and the outstanding Gareth Davies made the Wallabies pay for a slow start and set up a result which should see Wales avoid a quarter-final date with England.

Warren Gatland's men did have their 15-point half-time lead trimmed to one during the second period but held firm with help from Rhys Patchell's vital third three-pointer.

The Scarlets fly-half only came on after Dan Biggar was forced off due to concussion, the lone setback for Wales on Alun Wyn Jones' 130th cap, a national record.

Wales made a fast start in their tournament-opening win over Georgia and did the same on Sunday as a Biggar drop goal punished Australia's turnover from the kick-off.

Fly-half Biggar was involved again for the first try of the match when Parkes rose high to claim an intelligent kick and extend the margin to 10 points in almost as many minutes.

Australia's nerves eventually started to settle and the recalled Adam Ashley-Cooper got his team on the board by meeting Bernard Foley's cross-field kick.

Foley missed the conversion but made amends with a three-pointer prior to the half-hour mark.

The influential Biggar failed a head injury assessment following a try-saving tackle on Samu Kerevi, yet his absence did nothing to hinder Wales.

His replacement, Patchell, nailed a pair of penalties and extended the lead to 23-8 at half-time after Davies made a second interception, this time from Will Genia, and raced clean through, albeit from a seemingly offside position.

Patchell's successful drop goal in the early stages of the second half prompted Michael Cheika to swap Foley for Matt Toomua and it was the latter's break that ended with Dane Haylett-Petty diving over on the right.

Australia grabbed the momentum and reduced the deficit to four points 20 minutes from the end, Michael Hooper squirming over following a sustained period of pressure.

Toomua made both conversions and then put the Wallabies within one point with a successful penalty, but Patchell responded to give a tiring Wales breathing space in the closing moments.


Wales shed Wallabies hoodoo

Gatland's men beat the Wallabies 9-6 in Cardiff in November 2018 but had lost the past five World Cup meetings between the nations.

Ending that run and avenging the 15-6 pool match defeat to Australia four years ago could provide the impetus for a run deep into the tournament.


Cheika's big call backfires

Australia coach Cheika turned to experience to combat Wales, making four changes to the backline that helped secure a 39-21 win over Fiji.

He might be regretting that decision. Foley and Genia were drafted into the halves and, for experienced players accustomed to this stage, were prone to basic errors that invited pressure.


What's next?

The Wallabies have work to do ahead of Saturday's game against a Uruguay side boosted by a surprise win over Fiji, who are Wales' next opponents on October 9.

Reece Hodge and Australia have accepted the wing's three-match ban but insisted his dangerous tackle on Peceli Yato was "an obvious accident".

Hodge was cited for his hit on Fiji's Yato in Australia's opening Rugby World Cup win and then handed a three-week ban that will keep him out of the Wallabies' remaining pool fixtures.

Australia opted not to appeal the decision but Hodge posted on Instagram: "There was never any malice in the contact and any suggestions to that effect are simply false."

He was also irked by criticism of himself, coaches and Rugby Australia in relation to the "high tackle decision making framework".

"From my point of view, the high tackle decision-making framework was designed for administrators, and actually has little to no bearing on my decision-making on the field when approaching contact," Hodge said in a statement.

"We do lots of 'homework' as rugby players and are constantly adapting to changes in the game.

"Those that have played rugby would know that we don't think about the numbered elements of a decision-making tree for referees and TMOs in the split second before a tackle.

"The way I read it, it's a tool used to determine the appropriate sanctions after the contact has occurred."

He added: "Numerous articles suggesting I admitted to not knowing the 'new tackle techniques' are an utter fabrication.

"During the judiciary hearing, I was asked of my knowledge of the framework specifically, not of any 'new tackling techniques' or whether I knew tackling high was going to be penalised. 

"With that said, it was an obvious accident and I will pay a heavy price.

"The only sort of disciplinary action I've ever had was a yellow card for a 'deliberate knockdown' so it feels really weird to be on the sidelines, but I will be doing all I can to help the team prepare for Wales and for the rest of the pool stage."

A fired-up Michael Cheika insists Reece Hodge's three-game suspension will not "derail" Australia as they prepare for a blockbuster Rugby World Cup clash against Wales.

Winger Hodge was retrospectively punished for a high tackle on Peceli Yato in the Wallabies' opening 39-21 win over Fiji in Pool D after the on-field officials took no action.

At his hearing, Hodge said he had not been trained on the new tackling framework and the Australian media reacted with fury to the ban.

Head coach Cheika did not hold back in his criticism before Sunday's encounter in Tokyo.

"I wanted to say something at the start about some chat around the framework not being spoken to the players," he said.

"It came out in the judgement, the judge put a bit in there. I want to make a couple of points: the framework is for referees, not the players, to decide whether there are red or yellow cards in a game.

"The guy's [Hodge] already nervous enough as it is. When people are asking you questions and you have done nothing wrong you are nervous and may not have answers to all the questions on the tip of your tongue.

"People are making a point about us so we thought we would make one back - a bit of tennis.

"We are not going to let it derail us. We will suck it up and get focused on what is important - the match on Sunday."

Experienced duo Bernard Foley and Will Genia have been drafted in as two of four changes for Australia against a Wales side they have beaten in 13 of their previous 14 Tests.

However, it was Warren Gatland's men celebrating victory the last time the teams met in November 2018 and the New Zealander is well aware of the psychological boost that can give Wales.

"Losing games in the last minute in half a dozen contests can be quite demoralising but we really focused on last autumn's campaign and it was really important to us with two big games against Australia and South Africa," said Gatland, whose side beat Georgia 43-14 in their opening match.

"Australia was definitely one we went in trying to right the wrongs and coming away with a win it was a typical old-fashioned Test match."

Captain Alun Wyn Jones is set to make a record-breaking 130th appearance for an unchanged Wales side in a game where victory could potentially provide a more favourable quarter-final tie.

But Gatland is focused purely on the here and now.

"We have not really looked too far ahead. If you do get out of the group all quarter-finals are going to be pretty tough," he added.

"It is about taking one game at a time and trying to build and create momentum."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Australia – Bernard Foley

Cheika's decision to drop Kurtley Beale from the starting XV certainly raised a few eyebrows and means they lose the full-back's attacking skill from deep. The onus will be on Foley to dictate the Wallabies' tempo from fly-half and, with 70 Tests and 619 points to his name, he has the experience to do so.

Wales – Gareth Davies

The scrum-half was influential against Georgia, creating the first and third tries and playing a key role in the second. To unlock the Aussie defence, Wales will need their number nine at his brilliant best.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- Wales have not won consecutive Tests against the Wallabies since a three-match span from 1969 to 1975. 

- This will be the seventh meeting between Australia and Wales at the World Cup, making it the joint-most played fixture in tournament history, along with New Zealand versus France. 

- Wales won their first World Cup encounter with Australia in 1987 (22-21) however the Wallabies have secured victory in each the five meetings since then at the tournament. 

- Wales have won seven of their last eight pool stage games at the World Cup (L1), their only defeat in that span coming against Australia (15-6) in 2015. 

- George North has scored five tries in 13 Tests against Australia (including for the British and Irish Lions); only two European players have scored as many against the Wallabies (Shane Williams – 6, Serge Blanco – 5).

Israel Folau's hopes of a rugby league return have been dashed after the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) suspended Tonga.

Former Wallabies star Folau – who was sacked by Rugby Australia (RA) for homophobic posts on social media in April – planned to make a rugby league comeback for Tonga in upcoming Tests against Great Britain and Australia.

However, the RLIF board voted to cancel the Tonga National Rugby League's (TNRL) international membership on Thursday, pending a full investigation into issues raised by various parties, including the Rugby Football League and the Australia Rugby League Commission.

The unanimous decision came after the "Tonga Prime Minister advised the RLIF that TNRL had lost the trust and support of its members, clubs and players", with a list of Tonga's highest profile players making themselves unavailable under the current administration.

"The RLIF has received representations and concerns from the Office of the Prime Minister of Tonga, the Tongan Sports Council, the RFL, the ARLC, the RLPA on behalf of leading players and from concerned groups in the Kingdom of Tonga," RLIF chairman Graeme Thompson said in a statement.

"In view of the considerable evidence that the interests of international rugby league were not being best served at this time. The RLIF Board voted unanimously that the TNRL’s membership be suspended with immediate effect while these matters are properly investigated. The RLIF, at the request of the Tongan government will work with the Tongan Sports Council to ensure that the forthcoming international calendar is not undermined.

"The RLIF stresses that the suspension of TNRL is not an expulsion and is intended to provide a period of stability, while the matters raised by the various stakeholders can be properly and fully investigated. We now call on all parties to cooperate fully with the process to ensure a swift resolution."

A former Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos star in the NRL, Folau – who last played rugby league in 2010 before switching to rugby union in 2013 following a spell in Australian rules football – in July opened court proceedings against his former employer after his contract was terminated for expressing views which breached the team's code of conduct on his official channels.

Folau and the Tonga National Rugby League announced his selection in the squad for the upcoming games on October 26 and November 2, however, the RLIF on Monday denied the 30-year-old had been approved to represent the 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-finalists.

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