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Warren Gatland urges Wales to learn from New Zealand lessons

Published 26/06/2016

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has plenty to ponder after the series against New Zealand.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has plenty to ponder after the series against New Zealand.

Wales may have left New Zealand with their tails between their legs after a 46-6 loss in Dunedin condemned them to a 3-0 Test series defeat, but the All Blacks might just have set their age-old rivals on the right path.

Everyone in the Welsh camp - from head coach Warren Gatland, skipper Sam Warburton and even the youngest of international players like Ross Moriarty - now knows the size of the task ahead of them and what they need to do to try to bridge the gap.

The All Blacks simply got better and better throughout the series, their first since making it back-to-back World Cup victories at Twickenham eight months ago, while Wales competed hard for two weeks and were out on their feet in the third.

Not surprising when you realise it was their 18th game in a 54-week long season which began when they met up on June 15, 2015, to prepare for the World Cup.

"It was a pretty disappointing third Test after all the positives that came out of the first two games. We started pretty well in Dunedin, but New Zealand were superb in attack and we missed too many tackles," said Gatland.

"We came on tour with a different mindset and wanting to evolve our game with some more attacking play. We normally pride ourselves on a 90 per cent tackle completion rate, but our defence has let us down.

"We'll take lessons home with us and make sure we apply them when we next get together as a team. We have got to learn from this experience and take it back to the regions.

"It has been a good experience for the players and the biggest lesson of all we learned is about collision dominance at the breakdown, how they accelerate into the contact area. It creates quick ball on attack and puts pressure on your defence.

"That was the big difference and is something we need to apply. You can get away with it sometimes in the northern hemisphere because teams aren't so aggressive at the breakdown."

Warburton simply put up his hand after the game and admitted "they were just way too good for us". An honest and simple enough assessment when you have conceded 16 tries in three games and lost the last Test by a 40-point margin.

"The strength in depth they have in New Zealand is remarkable. The amount of talent they have got is frightening," he added.

"They may have lost (Dan) Carter, (Richie) McCaw, (Ma'a) Nonu, (Conrad) Smith and all of those great players, but that doesn't make a difference here. They lose a little bit of experience, but they have some super players to come in - that's why they are the best rugby nation in the world.

"The third Test was a bit of a reality check for us. It makes you realise what you've got to go home and work on - your physicality, fitness levels and individual skills. Being exposed to that level of rugby is only going to benefit us in the long run."

The 22-year-old Gloucester flanker Moriarty knows what it is like to be the dominant force in the world having twice won the Junior World Championship with England at Under-20 level.

But after three full outings against the top dogs in the senior game he has learned there is another level to go to.

Moriarty said: "We have got to look at ourselves and work on the things we haven't done well at.

"We will be looking forward to playing against southern hemisphere sides again in the autumn and putting into practice the lessons we have learned on this tour."

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