Prospering away from Penrose key to challenging for the NRL premiership, otherwise it becomes road to nowhere.

If the Warriors are to progress from pretenders to contenders this year, they have to learn how to prosper away from Penrose.

Over the past five seasons they've won fewer than one third of their matches in Australia, and never more than four in a single season.

Their road trips have been generally been a road to nowhere.

So far this season has followed a predictable pattern. They've won three of four games at home, but are winless away from Mt Smart.


That needs to change in this campaign, especially over the next two months, with only two of eight matches at their home base. The Warriors face trips to Canberra, Melbourne, Parramatta, Penrith and the Gold Coast, as well as a clash with the Dragons in Hamilton. If they can't improve their historical return in Australia, their season may be in the balance by mid-June.

The past record of recent NRL champions shows the importance of performing on the road. Cronulla won seven and drew one of their 12 away games last year, setting up their run to the title. The Cowboys were also impressive in 2015, despite their high travel burden, as they lost only three of 12 games away from Townsville. The Rabbitohs won 66 per cent of their away matches in 2014 and the Roosters (83 per cent) lost just two away games in 2013.

The Warriors have constantly tweaked the recipe for away trips over the last few years. They've travelled later, left earlier and stayed on for periods in Australia when they have consecutive games.

The Auckland club has also shared ideas with other sports franchises, including the Breakers and AFL clubs. They turned to science in 2013 under Matt Elliott, travelling with an electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) machine and doing extra sessions in the pool after arrival.

But nothing has really worked. They had just three wins in Australia last year, and four in both 2015 and 2014. They haven't got near the glory days of the 2002 and 2003 seasons, when they managed 70 and 60 per cent win ratios.

Coach Stephen Kearney is addressing the issue this year by essentially ignoring it, refusing to put unnecessary energy or thought into the whys or wherefores of their away record.

"To perform we need to prepare well - simple," said Kearney.

"I don't put any energy into whether we are playing here, away, anywhere - that doesn't bother me. You should be able to perform regardless of where you are going, who you are playing.

"My focus is on preparing to play well and that's where it stops."

The away schedule will always be a hurdle for the Warriors, especially with the physical effects of transtasman travel but it needs to be mastered in 2017.

The best Warriors team have had the knack of performing anywhere, whereas the inferior outfits have struggled with hostile crowds and unsympathetic referees, as they will encounter in Canberra tonight.

"It's a challenging place to play but we have to enjoy the challenge," said second rower Bodene Thompson. "That's our attitude, to look forward to taking on the best teams."

Warriors in Oz

•3 wins in 2016
•4 in 2014 and 2015