Shanklin the lone star on a gloomy night in Wales

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Wales will have been happy to have got a win under their belts at the start of autumn internationals but there was very little to celebrate about their 40-3 victory over Romania at Wrexham on Friday night.

Wales will have been happy to have got a win under their belts at the start of autumn internationals but there was very little to celebrate about their 40-3 victory over Romania at Wrexham on Friday night.

There wasn't even any facet of their play that brought any comfort. It has to be put down as a rust-removing exercise and nothing more. Romania were a far better side than on their last visit here and maybe Wales made the mistake of expecting it to be an easy night. That may account for the fact that they tried to score from everywhere. Instead of building moves slowly and establishing a pattern, they rushed everything and were easily contained for long periods by the scrambling defence the Romanians put up.

Having created many promising situations they didn't develop moves in a purposeful way and their work around the breakdown area left a lot to be desired. In no way was it as clinical and controlled as you have to be at the top level. Apart from Tom Shanklin at outside centre – and he would have been better at 12 – no one enhanced his reputation. Neil Jenkins did what he had to do very well but you would have expected that. Wales have to think of the future, especially at No 10. I find it difficult to forecast what coach Steve Hansen will do for the Fiji match next Saturday, but he must use Iestyn Harris's skills somewhere. The pack will have to be far more dominating, which is going to be quite a stiff test. At least, they are off and running and have something to work on this week.

Ireland and Scotland seem well ahead of them and should be really looking forward to their Tests. Ireland have had the benefit of being involved in World Cup qualifying matches, which allowed them to develop team spirit and play-patterns in games that weren't too taxing. The displays of their provincial teams in the Celtic League and the European Cup will have been an extra boost to their prospects against Australia in Dublin. After their experiences in the Six Nations last season, Ireland will be looking to establish a better consistency.

Scotland will be expecting a huge improvement because their domestic scene has been very encouraging. The addition of the Borders team has added an extra dimension and the way Glasgow and Edinburgh have improved in the Celtic League and Europe can't fail to ignite some big hopes. They, too, will benefit from a work-out against Romania and will have been warned to avoid the mistakes Wales made. A good performance will see them carry high expectations into their encounter with South Africa.

That word expectations will weigh heavily on England, who won't have had any match preparations before they tackle New Zealand at Twickenham. They'll still be expected to do well but who will pause to think what a big ask it is? It is not fair to use their excellent results in last year's autumn internationals against Australia and South Africa as a yardstick. Neither does the summer tour of Argentina count for much. What will be uppermost in England minds will be the defeat in France in the last Six Nations.

England do not have the advantage of a warm-up game that the other home nations will have had before they take on a southern hemisphere country. They go straight into a game in which winning will be everything. There'll be no luxury of being able to fine tune or to try this or that formation. I'm sure they'll be able to learn from the game but it won't be a comfortable experience.

English clubs have had a great start to the season from the point of view of overall standard. Last weekend's match between Gloucester and Wasps was the best game I've seen this season and one of the best for a long time.

But there are many questions at international level that need to be answered – without Charlie Hodgson, who is the outside-half back-up to Jonny Wilkinson? Who's going to play scrum-half? Who partners Will Greenwood in the centre? Where are they going to play Austin Healey? Are they going to accommodate their new flying wingers? Where's Jason Robinson going to play? That's a lot of questions to be answered before you play a team like the All Blacks. And these are short term problems. How are long-established forward mainstays like Jason Leonard, Martin Johnson and Neil Back going to survive the most demanding year of their lives? The next three weeks have many answers to provide – I hope we don't end up with even more questions.

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