“The main feeling I’m left with after the autumn is one of disappointment as Wales failed to turn some reasonable performances into results. Wales have gone seven games without a win now. A good performance in defeat is no good at the World Cup – it’s all about winning.
My main concern – and I’ve said this for the past 12 months – is our creativity in midfield and the back three. We now have as good a front five as we’ve ever had and we have a platform to demolish sides in the scrum, so it’s worrying that we can’t create a lot more from the set-piece.
Shane Williams can always do something out of nothing and has individual flair, but we don’t create enough as a team. Players aren’t offering angles or running lines or giving decoy options, and at times we look pedestrian. We’re quite one-dimensional in attack and we need to have options A, B and C so that players can change things as they see it.
The one thing I’d question Warren Gatland over is our ability to change and to give players more freedom. The attacking play sometimes looks premeditated and while there needs to be structure, there also has to be balance and variety.
We don’t look up and play with our heads or our eyes; we don’t play what’s in front of us and see the space. Dan Carter constantly scans and looks at what’s in front of him. He may go through 12 phases of using forwards to hit it up but when the opportunity arises he’ll go up a gear and exploit the space he’s seen. That’s what New Zealand are so good at – they’re patient and then have the ability to be ruthless when the opportunities come.
We need to be more inventive in our attacking approach – the lines we run and the options we offer – and it’s not a case of changing personnel but changing the mindset.
At Llanelli, Phil Davies always used to say, ‘I expect you to make mistakes because if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying things’.
I’d like Warren to give players a bit more room to express themselves.
There were positives from the autumn. Our front five did fantastically well and Adam Jones has been at the cornerstone of that while second-rows Bradley Davies and Alun Wyn Jones were excellent. Sam Warburton only played two games but has proved that he has the physicality required, as has Dan Lydiate. Those two have shown we have depth in the back row.
George North is a real find too. He’s got good stature and is so hungry for the ball; he’s always looking for opportunities.
We’ve got a few players to come back from injury, so we should be in a better position to compete in the Six Nations. And we need to have a good Six Nations as this a tough season, with the World Cup a big carrot at the end of it.”
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