Wallabies winger Dane Haylett-Petty says the pain of losing to England 3-nil at home has only made the side hungrier to finish their year on a high.
Haylett-Petty said the tough parts of a mixed 2016 had fired up the Wallabies ahead of the five-Test Spring Tour, which ends with a blockbuster clash against England at Twickenahm.
“If anything, it's motivated us to take them [England] on later on in the series,” he said.
“At the moment [though] we're focusing on this week and we feel like we've grown as a team as the season’s gone.
“The last five games we’ve played some good footy and I feel like we’re really growing and heading in the right direction.”
Haylett-Petty admitted the side was in a transition after last year’s World Cup, but 2016 was a learning curve for the Wallabies.
“After a World Cup you're always going to have a bit of that and we've got a lot of inexperienced [guys] that are improving every week,” he said.
“We have learned so many lessons through that England series, through those tough losses against New Zealand and hopefully we can keep improving.”
Wales will present a different challenge again for the Wallabies and Haylett-Petty said they would be wary of their attacking threats.
“I think one of the big challenges will be the kicking game, that they kick a lot of contestables and like to contest,” he said.
“Secondly, they’d like to have a crack with the ball in your half and play wide. So I think those are probably the two challenges as a back three.”
Saturday’s clash is the first between Australia and Wales since the Wallabies’ epic defensive effort at last year’s World Cup and a win would give them a 12th straight win over the Welsh, but prop Scott Sio said there was no mental edge but rather a faith in each other, borne in many ways from last year’s intense encounter between these two sides.
“Everyone’s improving, all the teams are improving every year,” he said.
“We know that the Wales of this year aren’t the same as the Wales of last year so we’ve got to be ready for that.
Sio was a part of that immense effort at Twickenham last year and said the lasting feeling from that was a sense of belief in each other.
“That’s what it came down to, being able to look into each other’s eyes and trust that we’ve got each other’s backs and they’re not going to cross the line,” he said.
“You just keep drawing on that and that’s what we’re building this team around and that’s what we’ve sort of tarted to find again this year is having that belief in each other and trusting the man on either side of us.”