He added: "There's only six days of a turnaround so we've got to look at developing our squad and the depth of our squad and give some of those other players an opportunity."
That should mean debuts for Sale prop Eifion Roberts, 27, Scarlets scrum-half Martin Roberts, 22, and Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar, 19.
Behind there could be returns, if fit for Gavin Henson (Achilles) and Mark Jones (knee), Newport Ospreys centre Andrew Bishop, and Scarlets full-back Morgan Stoddart.
Up front Newport Gwent Dragons lock Luke Charteris and prop Rhys Thomas, Ospreys prop Duncan Jones and hooker Richard Hibbard, Scarlets' back-rower Dafydd Jones and Cardiff Blues openside Robin Sowden-Taylor may also return.
Interviews - Andy Powell and John Smit
Two debutants were given their chance against the Boks and Gatland said man-of-the-match Andy Powell, 27, and 19-year-old wing Leigh Halfpenny can be proud of their efforts.
"I think they (Halfpenny and Powell) should be really proud of their performances," said Gatland. "There was a great crowd - a sea of red everywhere. It's just a pity we couldn't give them just a little bit more to cheer about."
Gatland says Wales must learn from the mistakes and missed chances.
"There is a positive in we know we're not too far away, but (we need) to be more clinical and to take those opportunities - that's what good teams do.
"That's out next step in developing as a team.
"We spoke at half-time about going and playing some rugby. We knew Test match rugby is a bit of an arm wrestle and we knew South Africa kicked a lot so we wanted to play a little bit of territory as well.
"But with the amount of possession we had, unfortunately you look back on an intercept try when Jams Hook's just come on and a couple of big line-outs towards the end of the game that we didn't nail and that's our learning going forward.
"We're very pleased with our effort up front. There's a development and progression in the side and I'd like to think everyone says this Welsh team is improving.
"We're ambitious. We want to be able to compete against some of the best sides in the world and we did that, but it's all very well competing - you've got to win a few as well.
"We have to learn from this, look at the video and be a bit more clinical. That's unfortunate as you develop with a team you've got to have a couple of learning experiences which are knocks and then that's your learnings."
Backs: M Stoddart (Scarlets), L Byrne (Ospreys), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), M Jones (Scarlets), S Williams (Ospreys), G Henson (Ospreys), T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), A Bishop (Ospreys), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), D Biggar (Ospreys), J Hook (Ospreys), S Jones (Scarlets), M Roberts (Scarlets), D Peel (Sale Sharks), G Cooper (Gloucester).
Forwards: G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Duncan Jones (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), E Roberts (Sale Sharks), R Thomas (Newport Gwent Dragons), H Bennett (Ospreys), M Rees (Scarlets), R Hibbard (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), I Gough (Ospreys), I Evans (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), Dafydd Jones (Scarlets), A Powell (Cardiff Blues), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Sowden-Taylor (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys, capt).
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