Gethin Jenkins said Wales would be a better team for being knocked off "cloud nine" by Australia.
The veteran prop said the Welsh had arrived Down Under elated by their Grand Slam-winning performance in the Six Nations. But he believes the hard lessons doled out in a 27-19 defeat in Brisbane on Saturday will be beneficial in the long run.
The Wallabies recovered from their shock midweek 9-6 defeat by Scotland to put in an impressive performance, leaving Wales with plenty to do to get back into the three-Test series. And the tourists' task was made even tougher by news that the No 8 Toby Faletau is out of the rest of the tour after breaking his hand at the Suncorp Stadium.
Jenkins, an 88-cap veteran, knows better than most how hard it is to beat the best of the southern hemisphere, having won once and drawn once in 23 games against Tri-Nations teams.
"For a lot of the youngsters it was the first time they had played in the southern hemisphere," Jenkins said. "Some of them were still walking on cloud nine a bit after winning the Grand Slam at home. But we all learned it is a different kettle of fish and you do well to win in the southern hemisphere. People had been talking us up but I realise how hard it is to play against Australia, even when they are missing a few quality players. We will really have to tighten up before next week. We have got to be right at the top of our game to get anywhere near a win down here. You only have to give them a sniff and they make the most of it."
Jenkins had clear ideas about where the game had been lost. "They upped the intensity and tempo in the first 20 minutes and [scrum-half] Will Genia got runners working off him and we suffered with the pace," he said. "We played a bit too much rugby in our half in the first half, whereas in the second half we played a lot more in their territory and forced them to make mistakes. We also made two poor defensive errors, which we need to put right."
The defeat ended Wales' six-match unbeaten run and will leave their caretaker coach, Rob Howley, with plenty of work to do. Wales meet the Brumbies in Canberra tomorrow night before heading to Melbourne for the second Test. Howley has called up the Melbourne Rebels No 8 Gareth Delve as a replacement for Faletau.
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