Wales head coach Warren Gatland admits all eyes are on the 2019 Rugby World Cup after ushering in a new era with a narrow defeat at the hands of Australia.
Gatland’s revamped side featured three new caps and a further three players making their first appearances for the national side at the Principality Stadium.
Despite slipping to a 29-21 defeat, there were plenty of positives for Wales as they seek to transition to a new style of play.
Gatland was keen to focus on the positives – and he insists they will head into Pool D of the showpiece competition in Japan in two years with plenty of confidence they can defeat Australia to top the group.
Said Gatland: “Our whole focus now in the planning, and it’s the same for a lot of teams, is the countdown to the World Cup.
“Picking and exposing some young players and giving them some experience and opportunities, then developing the game we can play from different styles.
“If we want to be more direct we can do that, if we want to play front line or from the back we can do that.
“We don’t look at it in terms of those defects, the nice thing is we’ve got Australia in our group and with that time together in terms of the next two years and preparing together, we’ll go into that group with a lot of confidence that we’re capable of winning that group.
“On the whole I thought there were some real positives from an attacking perspective (against Australia).
“We were much better in the second half and as the game went on I thought we got stronger and stronger.
“I kind of felt from the box that if Kurtley Beale hadn’t have scored that sort of freakish try we could’ve gone on and won the game.
“But against a side of that quality, you’ve just got to be a bit more clinical and from an exit strategy and just trying to hold onto the ball, we probably tried to force a few too many passes and offloads.
“That’s what we’ve been asking the players to do, and with a bit of time together that decision making will hopefully improve after the next few weeks.
“We were disappointed in terms of the result, but we talked about putting some new faces out there.
“There were three new caps, three guys getting their first game at home and some younger faces out there.
“I think they’ll get better from that experience, and as a team we tend to get stronger as it goes on.
“That’s Australia’s ninth game together in the last few months, and if you look at where they started in terms of the Rugby Championship, they played the All Blacks, who’d come out of a tough Lions’ series, and the All Blacks put 50 points on them.
“By game seven they’d turned that result around and were able to beat the All Blacks, so we’ll definitely get better from spending that time together.”