Wallabies utility Kurtley Beale can’t help but feel unsatisfied with the way their 2017 results panned out.
Accountability has been a cornerstone of this Test team and the disappointment of their final two matches of the year will sting into 2018.
Beale said the hard work the team was putting in, an approach that paid dividends in Brisbane against the All Blacks, justified some better results, but their only option now was to carry those lessons on.
“I just got the feeling everyone was working really hard up until that point and deserved a little bit better, a little bit more just from what I felt,” he said.
“The positives from that is that there's a lot of growth this season.
“For these (younger) guys to get a bit of a taste of Test rugby is definitely going to put us in good stead for next season and a couple of key positions in the back end - AC (Adam Coleman) was a huge loss but when Blake (Enever) came in and I thought he did a great job, given these guys’ experiences, what's required at that level.
“Although it was disappointing, I think overall there was some great positives that we can definitely build on for next year and make sure we set those things as benchmarks and continue to grow.”
Though fitness was an overarching theme, set down by coach Michael Cheika in June, it will be the space between the ears that propels the Wallabies forwards or backwards in 2018 - something that seemingly let them down at least in the final match against Scotland.
“We had a really good trot there until the England game and guys, you start to feel that momentum, the mood amongst the group, guys were enjoying the hard stuff,” he said.
“Although we didn't back down towards the back end of the season with our training, obviously the challenge for us was obviously the mindset of just trying to (keep up) that hard slog,” he said.
“There was so much belief after the rugby championship and we worked extremely hard to get where we set off before the last spring tour.
“The first two games were great but then obviously a couple of games against the English and the Scottish we were in those games as well up until certain decisions didn't fall our way which hindered our momentum.
“That’s just rugby, we've just got to understand whenever those moments come up in the game we've got to really take advantage of that and make the most of the opportunity.”
Though the pain of those line-ball moments will be crucial for rookies, Beale admitted it was a steep curve even for him, coming back into the Wallabies after an overseas stint.
“Even me coming back into the Test environment, (it was about) re-learning how important momentum changes are, (learning from) decisions that can kill momentum at crucial times,” he said.
“You lose focus for one second, you try and blink and then it's gone like that.”
Though Beale finished the Wallabies season at 15, with Israel Folau on sabbatical, he’s almost certain to switch back to inside centre come Super Rugby.
“I had a few niggling hamstring throughout the rugby championship, managed to get through it but that's the important thing, managing the body, making sure when it does come to preseason, when it does come to Brisbane Tens, I'll be ready, fit, firing and ready to go to start the season,” he said.
“(I want to) be primed to make a mark with the 12 jersey, with Bernard at 10, I think keep building on that, keep getting better, keep trying to adapt slight things to keep our game up there.”
Beale is settling back into Sydney, after his overseas stint, sorting out a house full of boxes over Christmas.
The Brisbane Tens kicks off on February 9-10, tickets available at ticketek.com.au/BrisbaneTens.