WALES head coach Warren Gatland refused to write off his side’s chances of a third successive Six Nations title despite the humiliating 26-3 defeat to Ireland in Dublin.
The reigning champions aren’t looking like a smart bet to hold on to the trophy this season after a shocking forwards performance at the Aviva Stadium.
It was the biggest loss Wales have suffered in the Six Nations under Gatland and their first away defeat in the competition since being battered 28-9 by France in March 2011.
Wales have a two-week break to put things right for the visit of the French to the Millennium Stadium on Friday, February 21.
And while their title defence looks like a lost cause, Gatland wasn’t admitting so in the wake of their massacre in Dublin.
“It’s not lost,” he said. “Points difference play a major factor in this tournament and today’s result isn’t necessarily going to decide it.
“The challenge for us is how we bounce back from this.
“Whoever won today’s game was going to get the upper hand because this tournament is about confidence and building momentum.”
“But Ireland have to go to Twickenham to play England and France.”
Gatland did concede Wales have made it difficult for themselves to make it three in a row and added how improving their performance is now a key priority.
“It’s going to be tough for us to win the Six Nations but it’s one step at a time,” he said.
“The first is making sure we improve from today and concentrate our focus on the next time we play, against France at the Millennium Stadium.
“We won’t be thinking of retaining the Six Nations, we will be thinking of improving on that performance.”
The New Zealander also admitted the bitterly disappointing defeat came after one of the worst Wales displays since he took over in 2008.
“We were well-beaten by a better team,” he said. “There’s no excuse. It was probably one of the most disappointing performances from us since I have been Wales coach.
“It was a bad day at the office and we take our hats off to Ireland, they were outstanding. “They dominated up front and competed very hard at the break-down. They mauled well and made life very difficult for us.”
On the injury front, he added: “Scott Williams has a sore shoulder and it’s in a sling. We need to get him checked out. The others are bumps and bruises.
“It’s a pretty physical game and people are going to get injured.”