Wales' tour to New Zealand: Five talking points after 3-0 series whitewash

Wales
Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953 and have never beaten the All Blacks on their own soil

After all the talk of trying to make history, Wales endured a brutal tour of New Zealand - finishing on the receiving end of a 3-0 series whitewash.

Their 63-year wait for a victory over the All Blacks continues after a 46-6 defeat in Dunedin, their heaviest in nine years.

Warren Gatland's side conceded 16 tries in three Tests, as their losing streak against the reigning world champions was extended to 29 matches.

So where do they go from here? BBC Wales Sport got the views of head coach Gatland, former British and Irish Lions wing Dafydd James and retired New Zealand prop Kees Meeuws.

How successful was Wales' new style of play?

Wales were criticised for their style of play during the 2016 Six Nations, but they adopted a more expansive approach on tour and put the All Blacks under real pressure at times, scoring five tries in the first two Tests.

"We came over here with a bit of a different mindset in terms of wanting to play and evolve our game and be positive in attack - and we felt we've achieved a lot of those aspects," said Gatland.

Wales' summer fixtures:
11 June: New Zealand 39-21 Wales (Auckland)
14 June: Chiefs 40-7 Wales (Hamilton)
18 June: New Zealand 36-22 Wales (Wellington)
25 June: New Zealand 46-6 Wales (Dunedin)

But former Scarlets prop Meeuws warns Wales must not completely abandon the direct play which has brought them success in the past.

"It just felt they were trying to play that fast game too quick," he said. "They needed to keep it in the forwards a little bit more and keep attacking. When they did that, they looked very impressive and their backline had space to run.

"If they can develop that style of rugby, they're going to be a very good team."

What has happened to Wales' defence?

Wales have conceded 21 tries in their last four Tests and were successful in just 76 per cent of their tackles in Dunedin.

"The number we look to try to achieve is about 90 per cent," Gatland said. "So from our point of view and standards in the past, it's definitely too low and it's not good enough for us."

Kees Meeuws and Dafydd James
Kees Meeuws won 42 caps for New Zealand between 1998 and 2004, while Dafydd James earned 48 caps for Wales between 1996 and 2007

Former Wales wing James put it down to New Zealand's class.

"The intensity they brought to the game is going to get a lot of boys fatigued very, very quickly because of the tempo," he said.

"There were a few sloppy tackles or easy one-ups that were probably missed.

"But when it comes to defensive lines and organisation, that can be rectified very, very quickly."

How do Wales address their lack of strength in depth?

Wales suffered an embarrassing 40-7 defeat by the Chiefs when they gave their squad players a run out in New Zealand.

James thinks the reintroduction of the Wales A team could help inexperienced players bridge the gap between regional and international rugby.

"It just gives you an opportunity to get exposure, play that higher level, that higher intensity," he said, adding the tour highlighted Wales' lack of depth in lots of positions - a stark contrast to the All Blacks.

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Meeuws, reflecting on New Zealand's success, said: "They're always constantly evolving, not just the team, but the wider squad. The guys who aren't even in the squad - they're developing them.

"We're very lucky that we have Super Rugby. We've got those players always coming through."

A shift of power in Europe?

While Wales lost in New Zealand, Eddie Jones' England secured an historic 3-0 series victory in Australia.

"You have to take your hat off and admire exactly what Eddie Jones has done," said James.

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Eddie Jones hails Australia whitewash

"They've gone and got three Tests wins in Australia. Not many teams can do that."

Other Six Nations sides have prospered in the southern hemisphere too this summer: Ireland won their first Test in South Africa and France beat Argentina 27-0.

Wales will want to lay down a marker in November when they play South Africa, Australia, Argentina and Japan as the 2017 Six Nations looms.

"I think Warren Gatland and his men will re-group, lick their wounds and come back out fighting," said James.

"Come the autumn series, the guys will be a little bit fresher and it will be the end of the season for South Africa and Australia.

"I can see Wales taking one of those scalps in the autumn series for certain."

Who will coach the 2017 British and Irish Lions?

Gatland led the Lions on their victorious 2013 Australia tour and is the "leading contender" to take charge in New Zealand next summer, according to the team's chief executive John Feehan.

Jones, who won the 2016 Six Nations Grand Slam with England, has said he does not want to be considered - but James hopes he changes his mind.

2013 Lions celebrate beating Australia
The Lions beat Australia 41-16 in the third Test in 2013 under Gatland to clinch a 2-1 series win

"The way he has changed English rugby around in the matter of a few months has been exceptional, said the 2001 Lion.

"I just think they have to stand up and take note of what Eddie Jones has done."

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