Edwards positive despite Wales loss
Shaun Edwards has delivered an upbeat verdict following Wales' latest defeat against a southern hemisphere heavyweight and predicted "good times" ahead for the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions.
The Wales training squad - reinforced by weekend call-ups Hallam Amos, Samson Lee, Rhodri Jones and Tom Prydie - has reconvened ahead of next Saturday's appointment with Argentina.
The dusting down process has proved a considerable one since South Africa defeated Wales 24-15 in a punishing Test match two days ago.
Centre Jonathan Davies will miss the remaining autumn games due to a chest injury, while prop Adam Jones (calf), wing Liam Williams (head) and replacement prop Scott Andrews (neck) also made premature exits.
Davies, one of the star performers during this summer's British and Irish Lions tour to Australia, could also sit out the Six Nations in February and March if it is decided that he needs surgery.
Wales went into the autumn opener without Davies' fellow Lions - ankle injury victims Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert - and head coach Warren Gatland has plenty of selection issues to debate before next Thursday's scheduled team announcement.
"Injuries to backs in the first half is a coach's nightmare," Wales defence specialist Edwards said.
"To have to reshuffle and still be within two points of South Africa on 68 minutes was a sterling effort from the lads. As I said to them after the match, good times will be ahead if we continue in that vein.
"It was a Test match of epic proportions. The intensity, aggression and technique at the breakdown was outstanding.
"I am disappointed that we conceded three tries. The last one was debatable (television replays showed Springboks centre Jaque Fourie was offside in the build-up) and another big call went against us.
"But the record books will say three tries, and we could have scrambled better for the third one, even though Fourie was offside. That is something we will be working on.
"There is no doubt that the intensity was a step up for everybody, and I was proud of the way that the team hung in there with the injuries that we had.
"The southern hemisphere teams always have an advantage heading into the autumn because they have been together for three months.
"But I feel that the level of that game at the weekend was outstanding - the physicality, the tactics and the breakdown. Playing at that level can only stand us in good stead.
"There is no doubt it was a step up, and I felt that we matched them, particularly at the breakdown, where we got 10 contact turnovers."
Wales have now lost 21 of their 22 Tests against South Africa, New Zealand and Australia since Gatland took charge in early 2008.
They tackle the Wallabies again in 19 days' time, but Argentina - conquerors of Wales at the Millennium Stadium a year ago - are next on the autumn agenda.
"We will talk about selection later in the week," Edwards added.
"We haven't really looked at Argentina, it's more looking at tactics and what we could have done better against South Africa.
"I watched the first-half of Argentina's game against England, and I though England were pretty dominant and were getting very quick ball at the breakdown.
"I believe Argentina competed a lot harder and made life difficult in the second-half, as they do because they are a tough team to play against."
Whether or not Gatland decides to field any of his training additions against the Pumas remains to be seen, but Edwards has highlighted all their qualities.
"Rhodri Jones is a very dynamic ball carrier and one day will be a top player. He just needs time on his scrummaging. Samson Lee is a bit different - he is an out-and-out scrummaging prop," Edwards said.
"Tom Prydie has been with us before, and I was very impressed with him on the Japan tour (this summer). He has matured a lot and is getting regular first team rugby, and Hallam Amos has an X-factor about him.
"We've got to put time and effort into them and try to help them understand systems. We won't try to put too much on them. These guys have their own skills that they will bring to the table."