Ryan Jones believes the future is bright for Warren Gatland's men.
As Wales begin their flight home from New Zealand, Warren Gatland's team can reflect on a tough journey where they have come through some rocky times to confirm their place at rugby's top table once again.
A number of the youngsters have really grown up on this tour and during the four months we have been together
Former Wales skipper Ryan Jones believes that despite coming up short in the Bronze Final against Australia, Gatland's warriors have put Wales's name back up in bright lights.
"We thought we could beat Australia and do something special. 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. Some guys have played the best rugby of their careers, and we have to build on that.
"We play Australia at the Millennium Stadium in December, and then there is the Six Nations, so there are chances for us to build on this."
Jamie Roberts, one of the standout players of the tournament, believes that once Wales can eradicate basic errors from their game, they will turn narrow defeats into victories.
"We will go away with a feeling we can compete with the best in world rugby. That is a mindset to take into the match against Australia in December, the forthcoming Six Nations, the tour to Australia next summer and the next couple of years.
"If we get things right we will put teams like this [Australia] away. We made too many simple errors and, at this level, errors like that will lose you games. There are no excuses.
"We haven't beaten a southern hemisphere team down here, so that is the disappointing thing. Our next opportunity to do that comes next summer.
"To go from the elation of that Ireland [quarter-final] victory to events of the last two weeks has been emotionally very tough but that is the fine line at this level. We need to take it on the chin and move forward."
Full-back Leigh Halfpenny added: "The future does look promising with a lot of excellent players coming through. It is proof the academy system we have got in Wales is working.
"A number of the youngsters have really grown up on this tour and during the four months we have been together. They have been a joy to be with - they have brought this team together.
"I think Welsh rugby is in a good place, and we are going home to a proud nation. The same amount of hard work has got to go in again for the Six Nations. It is important the boys go away from here and keep up the hard work, so when we come together for the Six Nations we are all ready to go."
Birthday boy Hallam Amos gets the perfect present with his selection on the wing for Wales ahead of Alex Cuthbert as Warren Gatland's men prepare to face England at Twickenham tomorrow in a crucial pool game of the World Cup
Wales head coach Warren Gatland and captain Sam Warburton say their first prioirty on Sunday in the opening game of the World Cup is to win against Uruguay and not get overly concerned with points difference.
Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards says Wales will go into the World Cup still hurting from the semi-final defeat four years ago in New Zealand. But before that, there is the small matter of Italy, tomorrow at the Millennium Stadium.
Wales captain Sam Warburton is impressed by the effort the squad has put in over the past couple of months and says Saturday's win against Ireland was a massive boost to the squad as they prepare for the World Cup.
Wales will definitely be in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup. They were guaranteed a place among the last eight after, and the chance of face either South Africa or Scotland, thanks to Australia's 33-13 victory over host nation England at Twickenham.
After missing both games against Ireland because of a shoulder injury that he once feared could keep him out for up to five weeks, Sam Warburton will return to lead Wales against Italy in the final warm-up match before the Rugby World Cup.
There was no fairytale finish to the 2011 Rugby World Cup for Wales, although they won the admiration of fans around the globe as they ended a magnificent campaign with an 83rd minute try from Leigh Halfpenny.