Matt Toomua says Australia cannot afford big changes against Italy

Matt Toomua says Australia cannot afford to make sweeping changes against Italy as they continue to struggle for form.

The Wallabies slumped to their 10th defeat in 13 Tests with a 9-6 loss to Wales last Saturday, sparking a fierce reaction in Australia where rugby pundits called for the sacking of head coach Michael Cheika a year out from the World Cup.

While there are fresh legs in the squad, including uncapped 18-year-old full-back Jordan Petaia, Australia should aim to field a strong side against Italy in Padova on Saturday, according to utility back Toomua.

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“I think we’ve got to win, don’t we?” said Toomua.

“We’ve got to give respect to Italy as a team who we know can upset a lot of teams. We struggled against them a few years ago back in Australia.

“So I think going out with wholesale changes wouldn’t be the smartest tactic.”

Australia have never lost to Italy in 17 matches but suffered a huge scare in their previous meeting in Brisbane last year before overhauling the Azzurri 40-27.

Toomua expects some changes to the Wallabies side that Wales coach Warren Gatland described as surprisingly easy to defend against.

“We’ve lost a few on the trot now and there might be some selections that are enforced because of form rather than just giving guys a go,” he said.

“It will be imperative that we win the game and we win well, to get some momentum going into England.

“Cheika might have a bigger picture view in terms of a few guys here and there but I think after, particularly what happened on the weekend, we’ve got to get a win.”

After Italy, the Wallabies finish their 2018 season against Eddie Jones’ England at Twickenham on November 24, live on Sky Sports Action.

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