Wales' World Cup squad headed home today with former captain Ryan Jones believing the players can take great pride in their performances.
Their hopes of claiming the tournament's bronze medal were dashed by a 21-18 defeat against Australia yesterday, but it was still Wales' most successful World Cup campaign since 1987.
They will now face Australia in a Millennium Stadium friendly on December 3, before launching their Six Nations preparations for a tournament that should see them installed as title favourites.
"We thought we could beat Australia and do something special," back-row forward Jones said. "We really wanted to finish with a medal.
"We hoped to leave with the third-place medal, but it has been a good tournament and we put Wales back on the rugby map.
"We came here with (some) players who we didn't know if they could play at this level, but we can be proud of what we have done."
Jamie Roberts, meanwhile, led the tributes to Shane Williams after Wales' wing wizard made his World Cup farewell in trademark try-scoring fashion.
The 34-year-old bowed out by claiming his 58th touchdown in a Wales shirt -- an ongoing record -- during the Wallabies defeat. He now looks likely to step down as an international player when Australia arrive in Cardiff in six weeks' time, having given several strong hints that this season will be his last as a Test-match performer.
"It has been incredible to play alongside Shane," centre Roberts said.
"I grew up watching him as a kid. He is an absolute legend of a bloke and a player I think everyone in world rugby admires.
"The input he has made to Welsh rugby is unparalleled. We would love him to continue. He's a pretty special player, but it is whatever he decides to do -- it's ultimately his decision.
"Whatever he decides to do, he will have the respect of the rugby world."