Wales left South Africa with just a midweek win under their belts after a topsy–turvy, two–Test series.
The Springboks took them to the cleaners in the first Test before the Dragons found their roar in Nelspruit and Wales came agonisingly close to their first win on South African turf.
It leaves Warren Gatland’s men searching for consistency in performance that has eluded them since their 2012 Grand Slam season. Gatland now has to find it with a group of players that has remained largely unchanged in the period between World Cups.
One or two younger men are starting to make a case for first-choice status, but the established names are still the ones charged with the job of leading Wales into 2015, where they face a scrap to get out of a group containing England and Australia.
This power ranking takes into account the recent tour and game time accrued, plus the importance of each player to this team in terms of how they fit the Warren Gatland model and how influential they are in making that game plan successful.
Dubbed "Warrenball," in short the Gatland plan is to use big men coming hard and fast onto the ball to blow the opposition out of the way before bringing yet more big men into the game in the second wave, as Sir Clive Woodward explained in the Daily Mail:
The Wales game plan, ‘Warrenball’, is a ferociously abrasive style of rugby. Everybody knows what’s coming but stopping it is a whole other challenge...
Centre Jamie Roberts charges over the gain line off the 1st phase. The ball is then recycled as fast as possible, before a powerful forward then attacks ‘around the corner’. If fly-half Rhys Priestland is playing flat then it is almost impossible to knock Roberts back over the gainline. He weighs more than 17 stone and that impact is huge.
That plan was nonexistent in the first Test but worked well in the second. Let's see how the men asked to executed it shape up after their summer exertions.