Wales coach and captain Ioan Cunningham and Siwan Lillicrap look back on an autumn campaign which saw their side record victories against Japan and South Africa before suffering a defeat against Canada at Cardiff Arms Park.

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Head coach Ioan Cunningham is excited for the next steps for the side following an encouraging autumn campaign.

“We are very proud of the girls. They put a huge amount of effort and hard work in over the last four or five weeks in particular. It’s been great working with this group of players and we have made great strides forward in terms of our structure, training environment and we are looking forward to seeing what we can do in the New Year.”

Wales lost their final Test of the autumn 7-24 to Canada after wins of Japan (23-5) and South Africa (29-19) but Cunningham believes the group will gain from the experience.

“Canada were very good especially in last 20 minutes. It was a great learning experience for us, it shows us where we need to be. We need to expose ourselves to that level so we can get better. We have reviewed the campaign, been critical of where we need to be, and there is excitement for where we can go from here.”

Players will now return to their clubs and the next steps for Wales Women include the offer of the first full-time and retainer contracts for players.

Cunningham believes that will be a game changer.

“Fundamentally, contracts will give us more access to the players which will allow us to make massive strides, firstly from a strength and conditioning perspective which is a key aim initially and will make a big difference as we look to become more competitive with the top teams.

“We have looked at how the players performed during the autumn – not only those who competed on the field but also the other squad players – their work ethic, how they contribute to the environment etc. We hope to make the first offers in the coming weeks.”