Gareth Thomas. Reuters file picture.
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
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
"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
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,"
- By Wynne Gray of the New Zealand Herald