Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Wales needing to do more than 'lose well'

A diffused feeling has started to invade Wales rugby, as the pre-autumn optimism of three weeks ago has vanished.

Beatings by Argentina and Samoa have squashed any bright-lights beginning to their test programme and laid more misery on top of the mid-year series defeat to the Wallabies.

The idea of "perhaps if we play well that will be something" has started to emerge but for previous captains like Gareth Thomas and Jonathan Davies, that is a no-go subject.

"It is not good enough to lose well," Thomas told BBC Wales.

He accepted in his time that concept was acceptable but that attitude should not be tolerated when the game had become fully professional.

Returning coach Warren Gatland should demand far more from his senior players in the run up to Sunday's test with the All Blacks in Cardiff.

Davies wondered whether there had been a lack of heat on the players because Gatland was away on Lions selection duty for the last two tests.

He wondered how much damage had been inflicted on their psyche with the turgid defeats to the Pumas and Samoa.

Hindsight said Gatland should have been with the side until the World Cup rankings were made in a few weeks but it was too late now.

Wales had to sort their game out, decide how they were going to play, who they would pick for the job and get into it.

In twin tests this autumn they had scored one (intercept) try, made one line break and conceded five touchdowns. The cracks in the side were turning into fault lines.

Thomas was the first Welshman to be capped 100 times for his country and also played for the Lions in 2005. However Gatland's selection duties for the Lions rather than Wales in recent weeks did not impress the former Welsh captain.

Right now he did not care how the Lions got on, his focus was on Wales' results in the autumn internationals then the Six Nations.

"My country Wales comes first to me," he added.

Thomas and Davies are among a clutch of former players and observers who have tried to make some sense of Wales' fall from their World Cup promise last season and their Grand Slam triumph this year.

Much of the consensus centres on the lack of quality rugby in the Six Nations, something which has become more apparent as the All Blacks, Springboks, Wallabies, Pumas and Samoa tour here.

Assistant coach Rob Howley had worked hard but there was a lack of snarl and snap around the Welsh squad.

"If we don't play well we won't beat teams simple as that," Davies said.

- NZ Herald

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