Scarlets signing George Earle says Wales could have whitewashed the Wallabies last month and seen off the Springboks in the World Cup.
The South African second row played against the big boys of southern hemisphere rugby in the Super 15 and he believes Wales were incredibly unlucky in both their autumn and summer excursions Down Under.
The Grand Slam winners were so close to shocking the Boks in their opening World Cup fixture before coming within inches of a first Test win on Australian soil since 1969 – particularly in the second and third encounters in Melbourne and Sydney – and Earle reckons there is plenty of reason for optimism ahead of the new season.
“I supported Wales in the World Cup. I think they were very unlucky,” Earle told the Western Mail.
“They should have beaten South Africa and they came so close in the semi-final against France.
“I just really like the brand of rugby they play. They are expansive, they are physical and they have a good all-round game.
“They should have beaten Australia 3-0 out there last month. That comes down to marginal errors.
“I think Welsh rugby is on a big rise. They have one of the up-and-coming back lines in world rugby. They have superb players and not just in the back line.
“The forwards I admire too, people like Sam Warburton, Alun Wyn Jones and Bradley Davies. They are very good players. I will be looking forward to locking horns with them this season and seeing what they can offer.”
Earle is equally complimentary about the Scarlets, a side he believes can push on to big things if they can develop a winning mentality under new boss Simon Easterby.
The 25-year-old is looking to bring a hard-nosed South African flavour to his new club and hasn’t ruled out making a push for Wales selection when he qualifies on residency grounds at the end of his three-year contract.
“This is a superb Scarlets team,” added the former Cheetahs player.
“I started training this week and found it quite intense. I am certainly enjoying it so far. I am looking forward to meeting all the fans and want to give it my all.
“I think I can bring something new and add my experience from what I am used to back home and the way we do stuff. I think that can help the team a lot.
“I relish the physical challenge. You go straight and hard. It’s the only way I know.
“Playing Super 15 has taught me a lot of tricks. I can bring something new to the pack and we can learn from each other.
“I think what the Scarlets need is a winning culture. It’s a very young side. That will come with time and hopefully I can be around to experience that.
“Coming over here to Europe can make me a more mature rugby player. Having experienced all South Africa can offer, playing Currie Cup and Super 15, I was just looking for something new, a better experience.
“If the opportunity arises to play for Wales, that would be the biggest honour and I would cherish that moment for the rest of my life.
“When I left home I told my dad that’s something I wanted to work hard for. He said ‘Go for it man’.
“I will only be 28 when I qualify and hopefully I would be much more mature by then. Being selected for Wales would be a big bonus and something I would really look forward to.”