Rob Howley believes that Saturday's clash between New Zealand and South Africa has reaffirmed the huge task facing Wales.
Rob Howley believes that Saturday's clash between New Zealand and South Africa has reaffirmed the huge task facing Wales in November.
The Welsh assistant coach attended the match at Ellis Park, which finished 38-27 to the Blacks, and claimed it was testament to the challenge the national team must overcome when both sides visit the Millenium Stadium next month.
“It was a fantastic, epic battle between the top two southern hemisphere sides,” Howley told the South Wales Evening Post.
“To go over and have that insight was really important for our preparation as we haven't played them in a couple of years.
“It was a really informative trip, not only watching the game itself, but researching potential accommodation and training venues for our tour to South Africa next summer as well as catching up with the Springboks and All Blacks management teams.
“We play South Africa first up and there is no doubt that it is going to be a huge physical battle. The intensity of Saturday's game showed that, especially with the amount of time the ball was in play.
“Nine tries were scored, and New Zealand came back really impressively in the second-half. They managed to negate South Africa's driving line-out and that gave them the platform they were looking for.
“It was interesting to see how both sides managed the kicking game and the aerial battle. Being live at the game, it is not all about watching the ball but watching what players are doing off it as well and how they counter attack, so it was really useful.
“One thing you have to do against South Africa is create opportunities but then you have to be clinical as well and that is exactly what the All Blacks did and that is what we will have to do as well.
“I have been really impressed with their form this season and we know we are facing one of the in-form teams in world rugby on November 9.”
Howley was also keen to emphasise that his Welsh squad, who meet up for the first time later this month, will need to hit the ground running in training prior to such massive games.
“It's always a challenge for players and coaches coming into international campaigns, making sure players are up to speed with the international game,” added Howley.
“We need to make sure the environment and training sessions are intense and physical so we are ready for the first game.
“The autumn is a huge challenge for us, but it is one we welcome and are looking forward to.
“It you look at the autumn series over the last three or four years, we haven't won too many matches and that is the next challenge for us.
“Looking back to the summer, the youngsters that went to Japan would have gained invaluable experience and the hurdle our players took beating a southern hemisphere side as part of the British and Irish Lions can only give us confidence.
“If you look especially at the third Test in Sydney, our players will really have benefited from that experience and will come into this campaign with a lot of confidence and we will all be ready to put a marker down in that first game against South Africa.”