There were a few reasons, however, for my nation not to descend head first into a barrel of depression. I defy any team to prosper without six of their most important players, as Wales were yesterday, and I say this in the knowledge that New Zealand started without one of the game's finest operators, Richie McCaw. The difference is, of course, that old favourite called "strength in depth" and Wales simply do not have the back-up to be missing players of the calibre of Dwayne Peel, Tom Shanklin and Gavin Henson.
The last two, in particular, were painfully missed. Wales need their two centres back, and quickly, because there was no cutting edge in the backs yesterday. But if they had been there, would it have made that much difference? This match, as almost every modern rugby Test is, was decided in the forwards and here the All Blacks were way above Wales.
It was one of the main reasons why I handed the man of the match award to Chris Jack, the towering second row. As I announced it on the BBC at the end of the match I could almost hear a million jaws drop up and down the country. I appreciate how well young Daniel Carter performed, and as an outside-half I valued his contribution as much as anybody, but so resounding was the destruction of the Welsh line-out that I felt it impossible to look further than that heroic pack. The Carters would be redundant without the Jacks of this world.
I'm not too enamoured with saying who is the world's greatest player, but Carter must be up there. He kicks beautifully, runs beautifully and controls the whole show beautifully. When you put all that in between the abundance of pace outside and the abundance of power inside that makes for some package.
They will be petrified in Wellington and Auckland that they have peaked too early and that the World Cup they are so desperate for will yet again elude them. But on this form, and seeing as Graham Henry and Steve Hansen are so wisely determined to bring along youngsters such as yesterday's debutants, Chris Masoe at flanker and Neemia Tialata at prop, they must be overwhelming favourites.
I expect this touring squad to complete the Grand Slam of the home unions for the first time in 27 years. That, at least, should be some consolation for my battered nation.
There are always lessons to be learnt. Wales's scrum was ripped apart, their line-out must be addressed and they should repeat the word "turnover" until they are sick of the sound of it. Just as you cannot hope to win a Test when losing more than half of your line-outs, you cannot hope to keep tabs on the All Blacks when the ball is being given away so often. The only reason they were still in touch at the break was because of a fine defensive display. Stephen Jones went way beyond the call of duty, as did Gareth Thomas.
Bravery would never be enough, though, and the more the All Black offloads took their toll on tired Welsh brains and legs the more ominous it got. I would say that the final whistle was a blessed relief if New Zealand hadn't been such a pleasure to watch. If you're going to get stuffed, you may as well get stuffed by the best.Reuse content