Super Rugby boss Andy Marinos says more teams could be cut from the much-criticised competition should they not measure up.
In an interview with Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch, chief executive Marinos said he and his organisation were confident the culling of Australian team the Force, and South African teams the Kings and Cheetahs, would give the new 15-team competition more stability and integrity from next year until the end the broadcast deal in 2020.
"The biggest thing is getting integrity back in the comp," he said. "We need all the teams to play against each other as frequently as possible and [for] that to culminate into an incredible finals series.
"It's about re-invigorating and re-engaging our fans and stakeholders but the best way we can do that is the unpredictability of the results and the competitiveness of the teams."
But Marinos also gave himself room for further changes when he added: "In saying that, sport is an unpredictable and volatile environment.
"If some of the teams, for whatever reason, aren't able to participate then we have to have some flexibility if we need it."
There must be scrutiny on the Sunwolves next year, the struggling Japanese team beating a poor Blues outfit in Tokyo after travelling home from Cape Town but won only one other game this season.
The spotlight should also be on the Rebels, the Melbourne team winning only one match despite being in a weak Australian conference.
Most supporters of New Zealand teams will be satisfied with the culling of a trio of teams who rarely raised pulses here, but there is little doubt that the unbridled desire for expansion -- mostly against the wishes of the public and media -- and then the mishandled axing of the Force in particular, has harmed the game in the southern hemisphere.
Marinos empathised with the players and supporters of the excluded teams. The competition has expanded from 12 to 14 to 15 to 18 teams and teams from Japan and Argentina added which has caused lopsided results and a lessening of public interest, but Marinos believed that was the right thing to do at the time.
"At the time, when we were looking at the expansion, all the triggers in the market were pointing in the right direction and there was appetite [for expansion] from our key stakeholders in that regard.
"The key piece that underpins it all is the high performance and sustainability and as we ventured down this path it became a lot more prevalent that some of the countries didn't quite have the high-performance outfits to deliver week-in, week-out in this new competition structure.
"There was severe financial strain on the number of the unions as well so that's what has really caused us to take a good look at the competition structure and revisit where we are."
Marinos said the television audience held up quite well this year compared to last. He said in 2016 there was a global audience of 50 million. This year there was an audience of 48.9 million.
"It's not all doom and gloom," he said. "If we look at the global audience compared with other competitions such as the Aviva or Top 14 [in Europe], we're certainly drawing a substantial audience. The numbers are good and the attendances weren't as bad. Yes, there has been a slight drop-off and again that can be attributed to the performances of the teams. I'm really confident going into 2018 with a settled structure that we're going to see some stability in the metrics that we use to assess [the competition]."
But while Marinos was upbeat about Super Rugby, he admitted to being worried about the continued All Black dominance in the Rugby Championship. Steve Hansen's men, who play the Springboks in Cape Town tomorrow morning, have already claimed the trophy with one round remaining.
"Absolutely it concerns me and I think it's even a bigger concern for New Zealand," Marinos said. "Sometimes your sustained success can end up becoming your biggest weakness because it just becomes an uncompetitive environment.
"There is a significant challenge to South Africa, Australia and Argentina."
• Catch Tony Veitch's full interview with Andy Marinos on Newstalk ZB at 1pm.