GETHIN JENKINS has challenged his bruised Wales team-mates to take out their Australia frustrations on the Six Nations in next year’s championship.
Stand-in skipper Jenkins was disappointed in the aftermath of their 33-12 defeat and coach Warren Gatland has told his players to learn lessons.
“Regional performances have got to be at the top level so we can compete in the Six Nations,” said Jenkins.
Gatland added: “We all must have a close and hard look at ourselves.”
Australia had lost to New Zealand, narrowly beaten England, drawn with 2009 Grand Slam champions Ireland and lost to Scotland on their tour before ending a stuttering November on a high in Cardiff on Saturday.
France and Ireland both beat world champions South Africa this November and Scotland’s gradual improvement saw them take an Aussie scalp.
Wales extended their 56-year losing streak to New Zealand before an unconvincing win over Samoa and then saw off Argentina.
Gatland hoped his Wales could beat Australia as they develop and build towards the 2011 World Cup, but the Tri Nations side romped to a comfortable win as the Wales coach conceded his side had gone “backwards”.
The New Zealander was hoping to celebrate two years in charge as Wales coach with a Wallaby win and perhaps moving his team into the top five of the IRB rankings.
But instead Gatland is left reeling in the aftermath of his “worst moment” as Wales chief as he bemoaned his team “are better than that” but the hosts “gifted” the Aussies victory.
“We felt we were making progress and to take almost like a backward step is really disappointing,” Gatland said after the 33-12 defeat at the Millennium Stadium. “There were no excuses, we weren’t good enough and were beaten by a better team.
“But for a lot of our players, particularly the young players, this last month they would have learned one heck of a lot. That is good for their development and the Australia game was a good lesson in playing one of the best teams in the world and players must learn from the experience for the next campaign.”
So Gatland hopes the four-tries-to-nil rout will ultimately be a blessing in disguise and turn out to be a welcome wake-up call for the 2008 Grand Slam champions, as Wales prepare for the 2010 Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup.
“The Australian backs were up against it before the game but came out fighting,” said Gatland.
“And that is something we must learn from as a team to compete at the very highest level.
“The biggest disappointment for me was the lack of turnovers and the lack of urgency and desperation.
“And there should not be what appears to be a lack of urgency, so we’re going to have to point our fingers at us as players and a coaching team and be tough on ourselves.
“We’ve got to come back stronger in the Six Nations and we will have important players back which will be a boost.”
Lions stars prop Adam Jones, full-back Lee Byrne and scrum-half Mike Phillips missed the entire autumn Test series through injury.
Captain Ryan Jones, wings Shane Williams and Leigh Halfpenny and centre Tom Shanklin also suffered injuries in the November campaign, but all are expected to return for the Six Nations opener with England on 6 February.
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