Centre Jamie Roberts believes Wales are on the right track for the 2015 World Cup following their autumn campaign.
Roberts, 28, played all four November Tests as Wales beat Fiji and South Africa, but lost late on against both New Zealand and Australia.
“We are building towards that final goal of winning the World Cup, but you can’t run before you walk,” said Roberts.
“We’ve certainly put the building blocks in place.”
British and Irish Lion Roberts, who is often used as a direct runner to try and smash through opposition defences, admitted feeling “pretty battered” following the autumn series.
“November can be harder than the Six Nations at times,” said the Racing Metro back.
“You play four games on the bounce, whereas during the Six Nations you have those fallow weeks.
“So if you’re playing in all those games in November, it’s a very tough series and very demanding.
“You’re playing against the southern hemisphere sides and the pace of the game is a step up.”
The 28-year-old told BBC Wales Sport that playing through the pain was worthwhile in Wales’ final November Test against South Africa, as Warren Gatland’s side recorded only their second win over the Springboks in the history of the game.
“The [Millennium Stadium] pitch is still quite sandy, so it’s taken a few layers of skin off the knees and elbows, but it’s worth it,” said Roberts.
“It’s worth putting your body through that, to get that feeling of winning and it’s two wins in 100 years [against South Africa] so let’s not underestimate the value of that victory, it was a big day in Welsh rugby.”
The victory over the Boks was Wales’ first triumph against major southern hemisphere nations since 2008, when they beat Australia.
Roberts said Wales had learned from their habit of losing close-run games in recent seasons against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa to see out the game.
“You look at that last 10 minutes against the All Blacks, in a game that was probably the most intense game of November,” said Roberts.
“That last 10 minutes, we were pretty mentally fatigued and we probably made some poor decisions on the ball.
“But I think against the Springboks we were far clearer in our thought in the last 10 minutes and probably learned from the mistakes we made in numerous games over the last three or four years.”
Roberts said Wales are “going through a learning process” and hope to build and “put processes” in place with every game leading up to the World Cup.
“Hopefully that yields results,” said Roberts.
“I think we ticked a lot of boxes during the autumn.
“Obviously we are disappointed with the Australia and New Zealand results, but I think we performed and put things in place on the park, that is going to stand us in good stead moving forward.
“There’s always room for improvement, individually and collectively and we’ll be looking now for the boys to hold their form for their clubs and look forward to the Six Nations, which I suppose is the next building block towards the World Cup.”
Despite the grazes and bruises, Roberts hopes to play against some of his international team-mates for Racing Metro, who play Ospreys away in the European Champions Cup on Saturday, 6 December.
“I told Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb we are looking to target the nine and 10 against the Ospreys this weekend,” joked Roberts.
“It will be great to come up against those lads, Mike [Phillips] and Luke [Charteris] are looking forward to it as well.”
Courtesy: BBC Sports