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Super Rugby will likely expand to 17 teams in 2016 but the competition could be one week shorter.
AAP Super Rugby will likely expand to 17 teams in 2016 but the competition could be one week shorter.

An expanded 17-team Super Rugby competition could be one week shorter than the current version, according to the head of the New Zealand Rugby Union.

An Argentine side for the first time and a sixth South African team - based in Port Elizabeth - look set to be included in the competition from 2016, when a new broadcasting deal takes over.

However, the competition format is yet to be revealed.

That should be by June 30, when SANZAR must present its new model to the television broadcasters Sky, Foxtel and Supersport, NZRU chief executive Steve Tew told reporters on Friday, following the union's first board meeting of 2014.

Tew couldn't reveal all the details as Australia and South Africa are still ratifying their preferred model.

New Zealand had largely achieved what it wanted but there had to be some compromise, he said.

Tew said a decision had to be made on whether to call the South Africans' bluff on threats to head to a Northern Hemisphere competition.

However, New Zealand wanted to keep them in the competition, primarily because of the money and the tough competition their teams provided - essential for the All Black players' buildup, he said.

Tew said South Africa had two non-negotiables: a sixth team and not travelling for more than five weeks.

They wanted a team out of Port Elizabeth and couldn't drop any of their "big five".

South Africa also wanted a shorter season but Australia wanted a considerably longer one.

Tew said New Zealand's preferred model would not mean more travel for the players.

"In fact, if this is all agreed we will have one less week of Super Rugby which we think is a good win for New Zealand."

The competition might start in March rather than February or possibly give the players a week off in June to prepare for Test matches, Tew said.

All the member countries wanted Argentina to remain in SANZAR, Tew said.

However, Argentina had warned that if its next generation of players weren't enticed out of Europe to play in Super Rugby its national side would struggle and wouldn't survive in the four-nation Test championship.

Local derbies are more lucrative matches, but the new format wouldn't allow full home and away derbies each year, Tew said.