As the decade draws to a close, it appears the perfect time to reflect on what has been a successful period for the Wales rugby team.
Two Grand Slams and a further Six Nations title have been scattered in between two semi-final appearances at Rugby World Cups.
The nation has enjoyed success that has been unrivalled in the professional era, courtesy of some of the greatest players to do the red jersey.
Here is the best Welsh team of the last decade…
15. Leigh Halfpenny
Throughout much of the decade, his place in the Wales side was a given.
It may be overlooked now, but around the 2013 Lions tour of Australia – on which he was named man of the series – he was one of the most threatening runners in the game.
With a low centre of gravity, Halfpenny would slither through defensive lines, bouncing off would-be tacklers to launch attacks for his side.
His counter-attacking threat may have wavered somewhat in recent years, but he remains one of the safest pair of hands under the high ball that the sport has seen in the last 10 years.
When it comes to goal-kicking, he is unrivalled in the last 10 years.
14. George North
Untouchable at his best, North’s try-scoring record throughout the decade is to be admired.
A capacity to move his sizeable frame at significant speed made him a nightmare for defences and impossible to ignore.
Injuries have got in the way in recent times, though, in my opinion, his demise has been greatly exaggerated.
Throughout the decade, Davies grew into one of the best players in the world and remains one of the greatest operators in the No.13 channel.
A dynamic centre with a piston hand-off making him difficult to stop with ball in hand.
The 81-cap centre is one of the world’s premier defenders of a notoriously difficult position to plug, shooting out of the line when required and preventing the ball getting to the wide channels.
12. Jamie Roberts
For so long, Wales’ gameplan revolved around sending Roberts charging up the middle of the field.
Opposing teams knew what was coming but that didn’t make it any easier for them to stop as Roberts provided the platform for Wales to succeed throughout the Gatland era.
A vital cog in the machine throughout much of the decade.
11. Shane Williams
He may have played his final game for Wales in December 2011 but he mustered a noteworthy 10 tries in 19 matches before hanging up his boots.
Few players have boasted his ability to evade tackles, defying the notion that you have to be big to excel in the modern game.
Former Wales boss Warren Gatland recently named him as the most talented Wales player he ever coached in an interview with WalesOnline.
The ultimate competitor, Biggar has committed himself to the cause wholeheartedly throughout the last decade or so.
The pivot has been, at times unfairly, seen as a fly-half with a limited game but he is exceptional at what he does best and tenacious in the extreme.
Has given more than most to the red jersey in the last 10 years.
9. Mike Phillips
Around the time of the surprise 2011 World Cup campaign and the Grand Slam that followed, Phillips was unplayable.
Was a figure that the entire nation, not just its rugby team, got behind and led the physical charge on so many occasions.
A scrum-half with a difference.
1. Gethin Jenkins
Broke the mould for prop forwards and earned most of his plaudits for his work in the loose, rather than the tight.
Held the Wales cap record until recently and rightly takes his place among some of the greatest players to ever don a pair of boots.
Was a nightmare for opponents at the breakdown and was more than capable of holding down his side of the scrum.
2. Ken Owens
Has become one of the first names on the Wales teamsheet since taking control of the jersey in 2016.
Simply will not leave anything out on the field and, in many ways, has been the heartbeat of the national team for years.
Richard Hibbard gets an honourable mention.
3. Adam Jones
Widely regarded as one of the best scrummagers to anchor the set piece.
Jones was vital to Wales’ success during the first half of Gatland’s reign as Wales boss as the set piece was rarely an issue, even if the changes to scrummaging laws went against him towards the end of his career.
Fondly remembered as one of the world’s – not just Wales’ – best tight-heads.
A giant for Wales – figuratively and literally speaking. A constant source of lineout ball and an absolute nuisance on opposing ball.
Would consistently batter through defences and work tirelessly in defence, evidenced by his 31 tackles against Ireland in 2015, a Six Nations record at the time.
5. Alun Wyn Jones
No superlative will do justice the amount that Jones has given to his nation.
Defying Father Time, the indomitable second row seems to be getting better with age as he continuously finds himself among the top of the stats charts.
The red No.5 jersey will be incredibly difficult to fill when he decides he’s had enough but, speaking to the man himself, there’s plenty left in the tank.
6. Sam Warburton
Illustrated by his extensive list of injuries, there is little Sam Warburton didn’t give to the badge on his chest when representing his country.
Remains one of the greatest breakdown specialists of his era, evidenced by the fact former Wales boss Gatland put so much faith in him as captain of Lions tours in 2013 and 2017.
Named at No.6 in this side because he dovetailed so marvellously with Justin Tipuric when the pair played together.
One of the most skillful and talented opensides Wales have ever seen.
Just as comfortable operating in the tight as he is in the wider channels and added a new dimension to Wales’ game by being able to cause so many problems near the touchline.
An intelligent rugby player who was made to work for it but convinced Gatland of his qualities by sheer consistency of performance.
8. Taulupe Faletau
Rivals Kieran Read as the greatest No.8 of his time.
Performed miracles at times, at the back of Wales’ scrum, particularly during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Respected around the globe as one of the best loose-forwards in the game when fully fit and proved it during the 2017 Lions tour of New Zealand.
This content was originally published here.