Wire fan Rob Watson – aka 'Spirit of 55' – has his say on the season opener...

A GOOD loss often sounds like an oxymoron.

There are some losses that are better than others though and I can’t remember feeling so encouraged after a loss than I did after this game.

The first game of the season can always be so difficult to predict – if one team isn’t quite ready for the season then a blow-out score can easily happen.

Watching this game though, it felt more like one right towards the end of the season rather than the beginning.

Wire definitely made the better start of the two teams, looking a lot more dangerous with the ball. It felt like they produced more offloads in this game than they did in the last dozen games of last season.

More importantly, those offloads looked very much like a conscious team decision with players around the ball in support and the ball carrier looking like he was thinking of an offload throughout the contact.

Blake Austin got on the ball plenty of times early on and often looked like a genuine threat to the Wigan line.

Even more pleasingly, he looked to be completely part of the team – something that didn’t always seem to be the case towards the end of last year.

Overall, the team looked quicker and much more lively than last season. Try scorer Murdoch-Masila looks leaner, fitter and capable of playing a lot more minutes.

The same could also be said of Burrell, but he still looks like he could learn from his Tongan team-mate about the difference between a rugby union collision and a rugby league one.

Once he gets completely comfortable with that, he could be an excellent part of the squad.

When it comes to individual players there is quick and there is proper quick. Matty Ashton clearly belongs in the second category.

He did enough on his Super League debut to make himself one of those players that you would always be wanting to get into your 13 somehow.

Once Widdop is fit enough for selection, it will be interesting if Ashton can find a place in the team and if so how, will he push one of the wingers out or will Ratchford be asked to play at centre?

Anthony Gelling reminds me of one of my favourite quotes, ‘sometimes the only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy.’

Safe to say that things will seldom be boring with him around, but he can definitely play too.

I’m sure they’ll be plenty of times when he will have some fans pulling their hair out, but he always looks likely to create or score a try too.

So he’ll be a ‘if you want the rainbow then you are going to have to put up with the rain’ sort of a player.

Despite being down to 12 men for best part of an hour and 11 men for 10 minutes, Wire not only stayed in the game but in many ways looked like the better team. Even Phil Clarke is looking forward to watching us now.

It felt like we were on the rough end of some decisions by the officials, in fact some Wire fans might have been more convinced by the Freddie Mercury impersonator at half time than they were by the officiating.

As always though, that is out of the players’ control and they produced a performance to be proud of and to inspire some genuine hope for the rest of the season.

They could play even better in their next game and still lose to Saints, but on the evidence from round one, Wire should end up winning a lot more than they lose and being a genuine threat in the play-offs.

One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but if you can’t be optimistic at the start of a season after a performance like that, then perhaps you never will.

With Daryl Clark, Widdop, Austin and Ratchford or Ashton, Wire can say they have as good a group of players playing in the pivotal positions as any team in the league.

It looks like this season we are going to have plenty of wingers and back rowers to pick from and hopefully, we had enough power from the props to at least hold our own against top teams.

Deciding who plays in the centres could be crucial to the success this season, but again there is plenty of option there. Player for player, there are reasons to be optimistic.

Much more important than the names on the back of the shirt though is whether the team will function as a unit and improve on last year, especially in possession by showing much more cohesion.

From this display, I am at least looking forward to watching them play, which was not something I could have honestly said for most of last season.

I refer to Wigan as the Evil Empire, which I doubt needs much explanation.

The dark side may have won this little battle, but I am confident that we have stolen the plans for the Death Star and will be able to blow it up when it matters at the back end of the season.