Wales is no longer under the radar for 2019 World Cup

Wales celebrates after completing a clean end of autumn victories

The message from Warren Gatland in recent weeks was that he wants Wales to stay under the radar.

After their most successful autumn, it might seem like a lost hope.

A historic clean ship from the first of November, with victories over Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa, means that Wales has taken third place in the World Rugby ranking behind New Zealand and Ireland.

This is due to nine consecutive wins, the most successful profit margin since 1999 and the longest run under coach Gatland.

The South African coach Rassie Erasmus described Wales as "silent hitmen" when discussing the hopeful world cup competitions.

With 10 months to go until the worldwide tournament starts, are Wales real contenders? They are one of the favorites, whether they like it or not.

Almost perfect

Statistically, Wales has achieved the most victories in a calendar year since Gatland took over in 2007. Ten victories in 12 matches in 2018 make impressive reading, with only two denunciations of Six Nations, against Ireland and England, throwing away the writing book.

Wales has for the first time defeated two of the three major countries in the southern hemisphere in the same calendar year, with victories over South Africa and Australia, which were defeated for the first time in 10 years and 14 attempts.

Francis gives Wales an early lead over South Africa

Wales will be looking for the next step in 2019, with none of their victories this year against the other parties in the top four of the world rankings.

Since Wales lost in Dublin in February, the winning run of Wales included nine victories including Italy, France, South Africa (twice), Argentina (twice), Scotland, Australia and Tonga,

An impressive list, yes, but New Zealand, England and Ireland should now be in the sights of Wales.

Power in depth

Never has a team in Wales looked so strong. Gatland achieved this by leaving most of their British and Irish lions at home during the summer tour.

They won two more victories in Argentina and a victory over the Springbok in Washington DC. The journey also helped to speed up new options, such as Josh Adams, Tomos Williams, Owen Watkin, Adam Beard and Aaron Wainwright, to challenge the establishment.

All five of those players saw in the victory of Saturday over the Springboks in the Principality Stadium.

The foundations were laid in the Six Nations when Wales made 10 changes to victory over Italy and continued in the fall when the assumed second string beat Tonga with a record of 74-24.

Liam Williams scored twice against Tonga in the 74-24 victory

The issue of back-row funds is a perfect example of Wales' current options. Lions captain Sam Warburton retired in the summer and Wales suffered setbacks with Taulupe Faletau, Josh Navidi, Aaron Shingler and James Davies all unavailable for the fall program.

Lions Test flanker Dan Lydiate came back before he missed the last match against South Africa due to an injury to be replaced by Ellis Jenkins.

The captain of Cardiff Blues in turn produced a majestic man-of-the-match performance and was cruelly stretched at the end of the game with a suspected ACL injury.

Ospreys skipper Justin Tipuric has stepped out of the shadow of Warburton to become Wales's player of the fall, with man-of-the-match performances against Scotland and Australia.

So when there are inevitable injuries, other options develop. You would only say that Captain Alun Wyn Jones and center Jonathan Davies are almost irreplaceable for Wales.

Subtle style change

The Wild Plan of Wales is still based on a high fitness and dynamic defense under the custody of Shaun Edwards and the resistance of the rear guard was again excellent this autumn.

The hosts scored early attempts against Scotland and South Africa and stood firm in attack attacks, while also limiting the Wallabies to only two penalties when Wales triumphed in games they had previously lost.

Dan Biggar (left) and Gareth Anscombe (right) celebrate beating Australia with Dillon Lewis (center)

Wales also developed its offensive game under Rob Howley in 2018 with more offloads and forwards, typified by Tomas Francis, who scored against South Africa after being set up by back-roemer Jenkins.

Gatland commented after South Africa won, that he, Howley and later coach Robin McBryde would still be the target of the "keyboard warriors" of social media, but Wales deserves praise for their offensive approach.

They have experimented with changes at 10 o'clock, with the more creative Gareth Anscombe and Rhys Patchell receiving opportunities alongside established Dan Biggar.

Anscombe and Patchell both appeared at different times, while Biggar stressed his importance during the last quarters against Australia and South Africa when his composed scorching cameo's helped to win the victory.

So, more debate about the famous shirt of Wales 10 will follow to the new year – not something that Gatland wanted, but knew it would happen.

Williams adds a second attempt to get Wales under control

Gatland is going

Gatland leaves Wales after the 2019 World Cup and wants to finish its successful 12-year tenure at a higher level.

The New Zealander showed remarkable courage and dignity for the autumn campaign by returning to his native country for his father's funeral before returning to take the lead just before the match in Scotland.

Family first is the message in the camp in Wales and it could become a very successful family in the coming year if everything goes according to plan.

The Six Nations campaign starts with outings against France and Italy, and successes in Paris and Rome are equal to the longest winning streak of 11 of Wales.

That record could be defeated by a win over England in Cardiff in February, before Wales travels to Scotland and then visits Ireland Cardiff in the last weekend of the tournament.

Warren Gatland coached the British and Irish lions to win a test series in 2013 in Australia and moved to New Zealand four years later.

Pre-tournament friendly matches against England and Ireland follow in August before the World Cup starts in September, with Wales across Australia, Fiji, Georgia and Uruguay in their pool.

Gatland will have his Wales squadron four months before the tournament and has shown that he has flourished when it's time to prepare for his party.

It will be his third worldwide tournament with quarter final and semi-final places already on his Wales CV. Can he go one or even two steps further?

Gatland and Wales will dare to dream. If that happens, they will certainly not be under the radar.

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