Warren Gatland has rejected the notion that Wales might be suffering a severe hangover from their memorable World Cup and Six Nations exploits last season.
Wales go into Saturday’s Millennium Stadium Test against New Zealand on the back of successive home defeats to Argentina and Samoa.
Gatland, who was away on preparatory British and Irish Lions business for next summer’s Australia tour for those losses, is back in charge this week and when Wales meet Australia on 1 December. And he admits the biggest challenge will be a mental one as Wales target victory over a revered rugby nation they last beat 59 years ago.
“We’ve chatted about the disappointments of the past two weeks and getting things back on track this week,” said Gatland, whose five changes from the 26-19 Samoa loss see recalls for centre Jonathan Davies, stand-off Rhys Priestland, hooker Matthew Rees, lock Luke Charteris and skipper and No 8 Sam Warburton.
“Yes, we’ve had a couple of disappointing weeks, but I think the benefit of that will be shown in the next couple of years in terms of what the players have experienced and coaches have experienced.”
Wales: L Halfpenny (Cardiff); A Cuthbert (Cardiff), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardif), G North (Scarlets); R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne); P James (Bath), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jarvis (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff), L Charteris (Perpignan), R Jones (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff, capt), T Faletau (Dragons). Subs: K Owens (Scarlets), G Jenkins (Toulon), S Andrews (Cardiff), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Knoyle (Scarlets), J Hook (Perpignan), S Williams (Scarlets).