Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards says his team have enjoyed an ‘excellent’ year of rugby.
Edwards saw his men reach the World Cup semi-finals back in October before clinching a second Grand Slam in five seasons under his stewardship.
The Dragons rose to fourth in the IRB World Rankings at one stage and came agonisingly close to a first-Test success on Australian soil since 1969 earlier this summer.
And Edwards, who was part of the Lions coaching staff in 2009, believes last season’s results and performances suggest a bright future lies ahead for Welsh rugby.
“After the way Wales lost 28-9 to France at the end of the 2011 Six Nations, the last 12 months has been really excellent,” said Edwards, who signed a new long-term contract with the WRU late last year.
“We’ve played 21 internationals since then and the progress made by the squad has been a credit to those players and all our support staff.
“We’re now getting real strength-in-depth throughout the squad, but particularly in the forwards.
“When we won the Grand Slam in 2008 we had a very good team, but there was quite a distance between the second and third-choice players, more so than with England or France.
“But now we’ve got two pretty good sets of forwards who are fighting for positions against each other in training. That’s very encouraging for the future and we’ve obviously got young backs who are putting their hands up as well.”
A number of high-profile names have departed the four Welsh regional sides over the past two years, with the likes of Gethin Jenkins and Luke Charteris heading to France this post-season, but Edwards is confident there will be no shortage of talent coming through.
Players like George North, Scott Williams and Alex Cuthbert have all shone on the international stage shortly after being given their chance on the domestic scene and Edwards is hoping for more of the same from other youngsters in 2012 and 2013.
“There has to be a conveyor belt of talent and, although there have been slight cut-backs in spending at the regions, there’ll definitely be an influx of young Welsh lads who are going to get more rugby because of it,” added Edwards.
“That can only be good for their development. There’s a lot of talent in Wales and hopefully the National Academy will help bring them through.”