Super Rugby has again sneaked up on everyone like a car insurance bill and has generated about the same amount of excitement.

Maybe it's because of how the season played out in 2017. Only six teams were worth watching - the Lions and all the Kiwi franchises.

Whatever the reason, here's six things that could instantly improve the competition from a viewer's perspective:

1. Parity


Look, last year's Super Rugby season was for the most part a snooze fest. Continually lopsided contests in matches involving a Kiwi and a non-Kiwi side did nothing to endear the convoluted schedule to fans.

Trimming the fat by getting rid of the Southern Kings, Cheetahs and the Western Force (it should have been the Rebels but that's a different conversation) will hopefully bring tight finishes back into fashion.

2. Signs of an Australian resurgence

Australia went 0-26 against New Zealand sides last year. Kiwi dominance is brilliant to watch but there is never a point in those games where you turn to your mate at a dimly-lit pub and say "Gee, the Hurricanes might lose this one".

That's a real issue for the competition. The transtasman rivalry is one of beauty at full flight and we should welcome any signs of improvement though that seems unlikely - for 2018 at least.

3. A standout contender for back-up spots at halfback and first five

No Aaron Cruden, no Lima Sopoaga and no Tawera Kerr-Barlow. Our emergency supply rations of halfbacks and first fives are looking a bit slim at the moment.

At least in Richie Mo'unga, Damian McKenzie and, to a lesser extent, Stephen Perofeta there are viable candidates to back up the reigning World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett.

But at halfback it's a completely different story. Mitchell Drummond looks serviceable at best, Brad Weber needs to prove he's got his zip back at Super level and Augustine Pulu is a halfback of a bygone era (2011 in Piri Weepu's heyday).

The loss of either Aaron Smith or TJ Perenara is a bigger nightmare now than ever for Steve Hansen and the All Blacks.

4. More McKenzie magic

Damian McKenzie is the most exciting player in Super Rugby and it's not even close. His high-octane risky brand of play packs stands and he proved he is capable of being a good All Black fullback.

His shift to first five for 2018 will be in the spotlight as that's where the higher-ups see him being used in the black jersey.

Can he replicate his form wearing the No 10 on his back? Only time will tell but it will be a breathtaking watch either way.

5. A commitment to afternoon matches

The best game of the 2017 season was hands down the afternoon match between the Crusaders and Highlanders, where an 83rd-minute drop goal from Mitch Hunt secured a 25-22 win for the eventual champions.

It would have been the game of the year regardless of the time of day but it being in the afternoon added to the spectacle.

More Saturday and Sunday afternoon matches need to be scheduled. There's something magical about a Sunday afternoon rugby match after a busy weekend.

6. An all-Kiwi final

Despite the need for parity, a New Zealand-only final will provide the best game to watch.

The Lions aside, no team outside of Aotearoa can make an 18-12 fixture exciting. New Zealand's brand of rugby captivates the fans.

Ideally, the Crusaders taking on the Chiefs would be brilliant although it's more likely the Hurricanes will challenge the defending champions in the finale.