Further change ahead for Super Rugby

Super Rugby chief executive Andy Marinos has hinted that the competition's format could change again in 2018.

Criticism hasn't been in short supply for the new setup following the introduction of the Kings, Sunwolves and Jaguares to increase the tournament to 18 sides, splitting it into four conferences.

Any tweaks to the format are unlikely to happen in 2017 but a report by Fairfax Media says that SANZAAR have hired a consultancy firm to help map out a long-term strategy for Super Rugby over the next decade.

Marinos said that should another new side be added, with bids from Europe, Asia, both American continents and also the Pacific all rumoured, then a period of 12-18 months would be required to get the new side fully prepared for their entry into the competition.

"You've got to be open-minded when you go into a process," Marinos was quoted as saying by AFP.

"Is it a continual expansion? Is it an expansion in two conferences? Is it a reduction and creating a two-tier system? There's a whole lot of different permutations one has to consider as you go through a process like this if you want to get the best result.

"Certain countries may reduce and some may retain or expand.

"2018 for me is more achievable should we look to expand. To try put a new team up in 2017 you're not giving them enough time to prepare.

"You need at least 12 to 18 months to identify the opportunity and then make sure the high performance and commercial models can underpin it."