Wire fan Rob Watson gives his take on the start of the 2021 season in his Spirit of 55 column

It was only the first game.

But there is no doubt that it was a disappointing start.

Mistakes early on in the season can normally be more easily forgiven.

What was most worrying about this performance was that weaknesses were all too familiar.

Over reliance on individual runs or a kick to King to score a try.

Not attacking as a cohesive unit.

Looking short of ideas and belief close to their opponent’s line.

A lack of go-forward down the middle.

A right edge defence that looked hesitant and lacking in trust when defending their own line, even without taking into account Josh Charnley’s uncharacteristic errors when trying to clear grubber kicks.

An overall lack of intensity and aggression.

I could have copied and pasted virtually all of that from a report from the back end of the last two seasons.

The lack of options for the ball carrier and subsequent predictability of the attack is something that I would hope could have been fixed on the training ground, but there was no sign in this game of even attempting to change that.

It would also have been good to see a formulation of some plans on how to score from close to the line.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of all was what looked like the lack of intensity and overload of enthusiasm.

There had to be some there, otherwise in sport like this they would have got trampled over all match.

It appeared though that there were nearer the minimum levels required to take the field in a Super League match, rather than the sort of levels that champion teams reach.

Of course sometimes a lack of match fitness can look like a lack of intensity, only the players themselves can truly know which of the two has the biggest impact on their performance.

For years we worried that anytime Wire had their trademark quick play-the-balls slowed down then they would always struggle to find a different way to win.

Lately this team seems to have lost that identity of a team that can be quicker than anyone down the middle and be difficult to stop off the back of that.

I am not privy to the fitness of all the squad members but the selection on the bench for this game did look strange to me.

Having Ashton on the bench seems like a waste of his talents in my opinion, but definitely a waste of a bench spot if he is only going to come on for the last few minutes or if someone gets injured.

I can understand the logic of wanting Daryl Clark coming on fresh when opponents are starting to tire, but equally I think you want one of your best players on the pitch as long as possible.

As harsh as it would be on Walker I wonder if overall that the 17 would be stronger if Davis was on the bench, sharing the loose forward duties with Jason Clark and if the other Clark does get injured or could do with a 10-minute rest at some point, Davis can fill in at hooker.

Philbin and another prop could also start on the bench and someone to spell the second rowers, maybe Robson.

I feel like that sort of bench made up of people where the plan would be for all of them to play around 40 minutes would help with the energy and go forward down the middle.

We still await the introduction of the Australian legend Greg Inlis, but that introduction needs to coincide with a greater emphasis on performing as a team rather than an over reliance on moments of brilliance from the latest individual with a big reputation to join the team.

As always it needs to start with hard running and tackling, without that all the rest of the concerns are almost irrelevant.

Once they manage to find that, it would be great to see some more creativity and players attacking in groups rather than taking turns trying to beat the defence on their own.

A long way to go, but a big improvement needed.

The criticism is already flying their way and they cannot complain too much about that.

I am sure they did not need telling that performance was not good enough.

Hopefully Round Two will be the start of proving doubters wrong and creating a new identity of being the most enthusiastic team in the league who plays as a cohesive unit and can find a way to win the last game of the season.