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Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Monday, 9 June 2008 18:43 UK

Tom Shanklin's column

Tom Shanklin
Tom Shanklin
Wales centre

This Wales team is now under no illusions just how gigantic is the gulf between northern and southern hemisphere international rugby.

Springbok star Gurthro Steenkamp is hauled down by Tom Shanklin during the first Test

It was just unfortunate that the world was watching when we aided our own downfall against the most ruthless team on the international stage.

South Africa are the world champions and need no assistance, but nevertheless we gave them a hand in Bloemfontein.

We made an unbelievable amount of mistakes - we haven't made that many cock-ups in a game since prior to our 2005 Grand Slam win.

The boys aren't just disappointed with our inadequate performance in the first test, we're so frustrated because we know we're better than that. We're fuming.

Much has been made of our pre-South Africa confidence but we truly did - and still do - believe that we're now good enough both physically and mentally to match a team like the Springboks.

But how many times have I been here with Wales? Celebrated a special triumph such as the 2008 Grand Slam one minute, then suffered the heart-breaking defeat after a flat performance the next.


But the focus of Warren Gatland's Wales is on ensuring a consistency of performance and results that is worthy of a top, top international team.

Welsh rugby's annoying habit of leaping from peak to trough - and back again -of recent times has to end.

We were missing some big players like Martyn Williams, Mike Phillips, Gavin Henson, Dwayne Peel and Lee Byrne to name but a few yet we need to ensure a strength in depth so we can compete against the best.

We have the talent, we just must maintain the mentality and clinical efficiency every game as South Africa - a team also missing some big players - painfully showed us in Bloemfontein.

This squad is hurting for not doing ourselves justice on Saturday, now we must make amends in Saturday's second Test Pretoria.

Yes we owe it to our fans, but more importantly we owe it to ourselves as a team.

see also
South Africa 43-17 Wales
07 Jun 08 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
31 Dec 07 |  Wales

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