Taulupe Faletau believes there is “definitely more to come” from Wales after they secured the runners-up spot in this season’s NatWest 6 Nations Championship.
A 14-13 victory over France in Cardiff – Wales’ sixth in the last seven games against Les Bleus – confirmed second place behind runaway champions Ireland.
Attention will soon switch to an appointment with South Africa in Washington on June 2, which is followed by a two-Test Argentina tour as Wales’ 2019 World Cup preparations and the ongoing work of building squad depth continue.
Wales did not trouble France by scoring a point after the 30th minute, but wing Liam Williams’ try and three Leigh Halfpenny penalties proved enough to see them home.
It also confirmed a reasonable Six Nations campaign, especially as British and Irish Lions stars Sam Warburton, Jonathan Davies and Rhys Webb were among those absent injured for the whole tournament.
“We were just happy to win ugly,” Wales number eight Faletau said. “It was not pretty out there, and to come away with a win was a positive.
“They were pretty good at what they were doing and pretty effective. We couldn’t get going.
“We knew they were a threat in the contact area, and we didn’t quite deal with that as we wanted, so I guess it is an area for improvement we need to look at.
“There is definitely more to come. We are seeing phases of it, and it has been great to watch, but to move it on to another level is about doing it for 80 minutes rather than patches.”
Faletau is likely to be among a number of senior players, including captain Alun Wyn Jones, rested for the summer Tests, but he added: “I guess for me, it is not about putting my feet up, it is a chance to get a full pre-season, which is not always the case.
“From that point of view, it will be great to do a full pre-season and go into next season flying.”
Successive away defeats against England and Ireland knocked Wales out of title contention, yet they won all three of their home games and collected 14 points from a maximum 15 at the Principality Stadium.
Wales centre Scott Williams added: “We said before the game that only second place would be good enough for us, and we had to win. We got the job done.
“It was a scrappy game and a bit frustrating to be part of. We have played a lot better in games and lost.
“After the first game (Wales beat Scotland 34-7), we were hoping for a little bit more.
“We are happy with the second place, but we were confident after that first game that we could have done a job and won every game.
“I think it has shown how good all the teams are, and it came down to one moment in each match which made the difference. So we will learn from that, and hopefully we will show the way we want to go and how we want to play.
“We have just got to ensure that that one pass or that one moment in the game is just going our way.”