Players' attitude spot on - Howley

Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley remained proud of his side for running Australia so close despite three successive defeats in their hard-fought Test series.

There were a mere 11 points separating the two teams over the three games in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, with the third Test at the weekend decided by a single point in favour of the Wallabies at 20-19.

Howley took over as coach for the pre-tour game against the Barbarians and in Australia while Warren Gatland was recovering from the injuries he sustained in a fall. Howley said: "I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity and challenge that presented itself over the last three or four weeks. It was everything I expected it to be - challenging."

Although Gatland arrived in Australia in time to watch the second and third Tests, he left the coaching duties in the capable hands of Howley and his backroom staff.

The interim coach added: "Without the support of (coaching staff) Shaun Edwards, Robin McBryde and Neil Jenkins, we might not have got so close. They have all been fantastic.

"We have all got a lot to thank Warren for because he brought us all in and has given us our head on several occasions over the last three or four years. Without that experience we would have been a lesser side for it.

"The experience the players have had in Australia will help us to improve.

"Our attitude and effort got us so close to beating the Wallabies and we have left a mark here that we are quite proud of."

Having got back to within a point of the Wallabies in the second half in Brisbane, Howley's side took the lead four times in the second Test in Melbourne.

They then twice hit the front in the second half in Sydney, only to fall to a Berrick Barnes penalty four minutes from time.