Bernard Foley has been dropped and Kurtley Beale installed as chief playmaker against South Africa on Saturday night in a major backline shake-up by the Wallabies.

Coach Michael Cheika has revamped the core of his back division for the must-win clash at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium with Beale selected to start his first Test in the No.10 jersey since 2014.

The 76-Test back will direct the show from five-eighth with Matt Toomua earning a promotion to start at second five eighth.

The enormity of the call cannot be underestimated. While Foley, selected on the bench, is still rated as the Wallabies' top No.10, Cheika is clearly exploring every combination to squeeze more from his Wallabies to end a four-Test losing streak.

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After aiding Toomua's return from England club Leicester, Cheika is undoubtedly eager to see what he can offer the side with the wisdom picked up in Europe as well as his direct, tough-tackling style.

The countdown to next year's World Cup in Japan is on in earnest and Cheika has to experiment with back-up midfield combinations if an injury hits Foley as well as flush out possible alternatives.

Israel Folau has done remarkably well to prove the sturdiness of his damaged ankle and will return at fullback just three weeks after a much longer lay-off was predicted.

Backrower David Pocock has defied the odds to be selected and only his astonishing resilience has got him this far with a stiff neck.

In key pack changes, the Wallabies have dumped their two most experienced forwards from the bench with 96-Test prop Sekope Kepu and 87-Test lock Rob Simmons both missing out altogether.

Towering Brumbies lock Rory Arnold has won his first start of the year ahead of Izack Rodda, who has been shuffled to the bench after his modest display in the 40-12 tumble to the All Blacks in Auckland.

The 133kg frame of Taniela Tupou adds enormous potential impact from the bench. Starting tighthead prop Allan Alaalatoa and super sub Tupou have squeezed out Kepu for now.

Tupou has worked hard to beat the hamstring injury that was the only reason for his absence against the All Blacks in Sydney in Auckland.

His explosive running and vastly-improved scrummaging offer a real point of difference to the the Wallabies bench.

Foley has been Australia's undisputed top five-eighth since October, 2016 when Cheika did away with his experiment to play Foley at inside centre outside Quade Cooper at No.10.

WALLABIES

1. Scott Sio (47 Tests)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (84 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (25 Tests)
4. Rory Arnold (15 Tests)
5. Adam Coleman (25 Tests)
6. Lukhan Tui (9 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (84 Tests)
8. David Pocock (71 Tests)
9. Will Genia (92 Tests)
10. Kurtley Beale (76 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (13 Tests)
12. Matt Toomua (35 Tests)
13. Reece Hodge (29 Tests)
14. Dane Haylett-Petty (23 Tests)
15. Israel Folau (66 Tests)

Reserves

16. Folau Faingaa (1 Test)
17. Tom Robertson (23 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (4 Tests)
19. Izack Rodda (9 Tests)
20. Ned Hanigan (13 Tests)
21. Joe Powell (4 Tests)
22. Bernard Foley (60 Tests)
23. Jack Maddocks (2 Tests)