RYAN Jones believes Wales will benefit from their autumn injury problems forcing them to blood new talent but admits they’ve fallen some way short of their expectations.
The treatment room at the national side’s Vale of Glamorgan headquarters has been jam-packed over the past few weeks.
Before the autumn series started Wales were rocked by injuries to arguably their two most important players, blindside flanker Dan Lydiate and tighthead Adam Jones.
In a bruising campaign they were joined on the sidelines by wing George North, tighthead Aaron Jarvis, hooker Richard Hibbard, locks Alun Wyn Jones and Bradley Davies, back-row forwards Rob McCusker and Josh Turnbull.
A shoulder problem and head wound meant that back- row forward Jones also needed some TLC over the past month, and he believes the squad has been strengthened through adversity.
“This group has grown together this autumn,” said the 70-times-capped former captain. “We have had incredibly bad luck with injuries and for the guys to get where they were against Australia is credit to them.
“Aaron Shingler has done well the last fortnight, Lou Reed against Australia and Scott Andrews.
“It can only be of benefit exposing some young guys to international rugby – there’s no doubt about that.
“We put in an improved performance against New Zealand; we finished that game strongly and started better against Australia. But we are in the results business, I know.”
The nature of the loss – with Kurtley Beale winning it 14-12 for the Wallabies with a last-gasp try – was hard to take for scrum-half Mike Phillips.
“It was a game we were in control of and it’s very difficult to talk about,” said the Bayonne number nine.
“To lose again in the last minute like that... it’s devastation. We’d rather lose by 50 points, I think.
“But we have got to take it on the chin. We played some outstanding rugby, some of the best we have played this autumn.
“We have played really well, we’ve attacked and defended well. Australia never threatened our try-line until the last 30 seconds, which makes it more difficult to take.”