Penrith’s history make them fitting opponents for latest fresh start .

So here we go again.

Today's match against Penrith feels like a yet another "new start' for the Warriors, in a year that has already offered plenty of false dawns.

Remember the early season expectation, which was swiftly crushed in 40 minutes versus the Tigers?

There were encouraging displays against the Storm, Knights and Roosters before the awful loss to the Sea Eagles at Mt Smart. That was followed by a rebound win over the Bulldogs, before lows were reached in Melbourne on Anzac Day. Add in the injuries to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Ben Henry and Issac Luke's struggles and you had a chaotic start to the season, even before the prescription drugs/energy drinks scandal that has enveloped the club over the past fortnight, and is ongoing.


So today, 1000km from home base, against a team who have been a nemesis, are the Warriors finally ready to launch into 2016?

"It's something that has happened to us that we feel has galvanised us," said coach Andrew McFadden of the prescription drugs saga. "It's important we move forward as a group and look towards the rest of the season.

"We've had a slow start to the season but I'm hoping it is going to be a turning point for us."

If today is a new chapter, it's appropriate Penrith are the opponents. They've played a role in several season-defining clashes in recent years.

In 2012 Brian McClennan was sacked after a round 22 18-16 loss to the "Chocolate Soldiers" at Mt Smart, the sixth consecutive defeat a bridge too far for the club owners. The infamous 62-6 hiding at Penrith in 2013 raised serious questions over the coaching abilities of Matt Elliott, and they never really went away, until he was fired early in the next season.

And there was the last-round match in 2014, when the Warriors could have made the finals with a win (or even a narrow defeat), but slumped to a 22-6 loss in a inexplicably flat display.

The Panthers are a tough proposition today; they have been competitive in every match this season (no margin greater than eight points) and their lowly ladder position belies their strength. They have a well-balanced roster, with speed out wide and size and mobility in the pack. And, unlike the Warriors, they look confident and consistent every time they play.

"They are a very skilful side, with individuals in form so it is going to be a good test," said McFadden.

But there are reasons for hope. The return of Tui Lolohea is a plus, as the utility has been in career best form. He was superb in the wins over the Roosters and Bulldogs, and only nine players across the NRL have made more line breaks this season. Thomas Leuluai's inclusion is also a boost while Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson have plenty to prove.

The Warriors have traditionally struggled away from Mt Smart, with only five wins from 22 matches at other NZ venues. But they knocked off their Wellington hex against the Bulldogs last month and have won their past two Christchurch matches.

"The Warriors seem to have a lot of hoodoos but that's all in the past," said Ryan Hoffman. "This is the 2016 Warriors and that's all that matters."