Clyde Rathbone's public doubts about the viability of a fifth South African Super 12 franchise are not just the revengeful ramblings of a man whose head is regularly left spinning by all the unwelcome attention paid it by current South African teams.

Rathbone's right - a quick look around the Super 12 this year makes you wonder how much excitement will be added by next year's Super 14.

The Bulls, Cats and Sharks are not really doing the business so far. While the former two have generally struggled, the Sharks are a surprise addition to the lower rungs of the competition. Only the Stormers look like threatening the established order of things.

Which begs the question: Why are we having 14 teams? Oh, that's right, money.

It's difficult to contemplate the Super 14 being an improved competition if two easy-beats are added to the line-up. No one seems likely to benefit if the two new teams, as seems likely, are handed their heads on a regular basis.

New Perth coach John Mitchell has successfully won the job - but the work is just starting. A very public approach to Reds and Wallaby lock Nathan Sharpe was even more publicly rebuffed (although we shouldn't take too much notice of that - professional sport has a funny way of turning no into yes).

But the task ahead of Mitchell is clear and the Aussie hammering machine has swung into full gear with the charmless prediction by Australian writer Spiros Zavos that Mitchell will fail because he isn't in the same league as Rod Macqueen (the man who took charge of the Brumbies). Nice one, Spiro. Whatever happened to the good old Aussie tradition of giving a bloke a fair go? I hope he tells you to stick your Spiro up your Zavos but he may not be ready to share that with you yet.

The plain fact of the matter is that the two new franchises are not being driven by necessity but by deal-making and TV audiences. The Brumbies succeeded because there were genuine feelings that players were being done out of spots in the New South Wales and Queensland rugby hierarchies. From such strongly-held convictions, good teams can rise - and there is no doubt that was a key factor in the Brumbies' success, notwithstanding the talents of Macqueen.

But is there the same drive and urgency from players who feel they have been unfairly dealt to and want to show the world by taking the Perth franchise to the top of the ladder? Nope, don't think so.

And what about South Africa? They have a bit of a case for another franchise. The franchise system hasn't worked well there.

In the case of the Cats, for example, the franchise has pushed together rugby regions hundreds of miles apart physically and galaxies apart mentally.

There is a case, for example, for setting up a franchise around a more cohesive region - like Orange Free State - and getting rid of some of the anomalies that currently plague South African Super 12 sides.

But will that create a franchise which will instantly beat others and will not be subject to initial hidings? Nope, don't think so.

South African teams - and here I am about to make a gross over-generalisation - do not seem to have the skill levels, the grasp of the basics, the genuine loose forwards, the selections and a whole host of other reasons for not quite measuring up.

And I say that in the full knowledge they won the Tri-Nations last year. There are some exceptions, of course, and Jake White is doing a manful job with the Springboks but they're not quite good enough.

The Brumbies were unique in that they were created from a real need as opposed to a real need for TV audiences - at which South Africa far outweighs little old New Zealand.

I may be wrong - hey, I picked the Blues to beat the Chiefs by 13 points and over last weekend - but the Super 14 has the smell of a super deal and sod-all else.