The Wallabies are banking on a new Kurtley Beale-Matt Toomua combination to fire up their underperforming team on Saturday against a Springboks side also hoping a radical shake-up pays dividends.

Both of them are coming off demoralising Rugby Championship defeats – to New Zealand and Argentina respectively – and need to win their showdown at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium to restore some pride.

In a blow for Australia, influential flanker David Pocock was ruled out Friday with a neck injury after receiving brutal treatment from the All Blacks in Auckland a fortnight ago.

They also go into the game without a start from long-time playmaker Bernard Foley, who is paying the price for the Wallabies crashing to four straight losses – twice to Ireland and twice to New Zealand.

Relegating him to the bench was a brave decision by under-pressure coach Michael Cheika, with Foley a rock who has figured in 46 of the 50 games he has been in charge.

But with calls for Cheika to be sacked after they surrendered the Bledisloe Cup to New Zealand again, he had to do something.

The versatile Beale has been moved into Foley’s No. 10 jersey as part of a new midfield core, alongside Toomua at inside centre, with the Wallabies betting on the pair’s strong kicking games to help build pressure.

“I suppose I just wanted to shake it up a little bit,” said Cheika.

“It’s a big Test for us and I think this is the best combination for us to go into this game.”

If the gamble pays off and sparks the Wallabies back into form, it could conceivably become the new normal heading into next year’s World Cup in Japan.

Skipper Michael Hooper said Foley’s demotion showed “no-one is safe … it’s an incentive to stay on the park and be performing the best you can possibly be”.

He added that Beale’s elevation to playmaker was deserved.

“His thirst for wanting to improve in leadership parts of the game has certainly been evident this year and I think he’s delivered some amazing performances throughout.”

Mental hurdle

Cheika has also made a host of changes elsewhere with Rory Arnold replacing Izack Rodda as a starting lock and Israel Folau returning from injury at fullback, with Dale Haylett-Petty shifting back to the right wing.

It is a dream return to the starting XV for Toomua, who was ineligible to play for the Wallabies while plying his trade for two years with Leicester in the English Premiership.

“It’s very much a chance for Kurtley and myself as a combination and to provide a different picture. We will see how it works out,” said Toomua.

Australia and South Africa couldn’t be split in their two encounters last year, with a 23-all draw in Perth before a 27-all draw in Bloemfontein.

With an embarrassing 32-19 loss to Argentina in Mendoza weighing on his mind, Springboks coach Johan “Rassie” Erasmus has also sprung some surprises with six changes in his bid to spark a revival.

It includes benching highly-rated hooker Malcolm Marx and 103-Test prop Tendai Mtawarira.

Steven Kitshoff and Bongi Mbonambi form a new front row next to Frans Malherbe, while captain Siya Kolisi returns as blindside flanker after playing on the opposite side of the scrum against Argentina.

The Springboks have lost their last two away games, but Kolisi insisted it was not a mental hurdle.

“We’re not at a stage where we say: ‘we can’t win away’,” he said.

“This game this weekend is very important for both of us, for the championship as well.”