Former Warriors coach Ivan Cleary believes the NRL club are smart enough to emerge from the giant hole that has swallowed them this season.

Cleary's Penrith Panthers rubbed salt in the wounds of a Warriors side enduring an agonising end to 2012 with a last-gasp 18-16 win on Sunday.

While he was surprised the club he took to the grand final last year had fallen so heavily, he was reluctant to analyse their demise from afar.

"I don't know what the full story is. The fact is that it's been a disappointing year for them," Cleary said.

"We've got enough problems in our own back yard."

After six years at the helm before crossing the Tasman at the end of last season, Cleary was well aware of the resources at the Auckland club and suspected there would be a bounce-back next year.

"The club should be in good shape. There's plenty of talent in the playing roster, a lot of good kids have had some experience this year," he said.

"With that in mind, I'm sure they can work it out and go forward."

Meanwhile, Cleary admitted it had felt "strange" flying into Auckland and taking his team to Mt Smart Stadium.

He smiled at the comparatively poor state of the visitors' dressing rooms but said he was made to feel welcome.

"Lots of people have been really nice to me today. It's good to catch up with a few people and see some old faces."

NZ Newswire