Rugby: 'This isn't a charity' - All Blacks coach Ian Foster's blunt message to Australian Super Rugby

All Blacks coach Ian Foster has delivered a blunt reality check, as Rugby Australia fights to keep as many teams as possible in Super Rugby from 2021.

Foster insists NZ Rugby "isn't a charity" and only competitive and financially viable teams should be included in the competition.

He has more of a vested interest than most in the strength of Super Rugby. The stronger the competition, the stronger his All Blacks potential.

And with the format set to take a different shape from next year, Foster doesn't want teams included just to make up numbers.

"This is not a charity," Foster tells Newshub. "We've got to make sure they're feasible, they're financially viable and that the public are really going to get behind them."

Super Rugby Aotearoa has shown how successful the competition can be when they do.

Last week, Newshub revealed the NZ Rugby-led 'Aratipu' review had recommended a trans-Tasman competition with the possible addition of a Pacific Island team.

But since then, the make-up of the Australian sides has caused debate and while Foster is reluctant to put a number on how many teams from across the Tasman, he realises a line in the sand needs to be drawn.

"Whatever number of teams that can play this game at a financial level," Foster responds.  "I think it's got to be competitive and it's got to be financially viable."

Foster fully supports the addition of a Pacific Island team, but that also means ticking those two boxes - competitive and financially viable.

"Of course [I support it], but it's got to stack up like everything else," he says. "We've seen in the past that if we let teams in that can't survive, then you've got to keep changing the competition around."

Whatever format is approved for 2021, Foster insists quantity shouldn't be a substitute for quality.

"We've got to do whatever we can to get competitive teams against our teams," he adds. "We're pretty secure in our five, so once they get their number, we can sit around and have a conversation."

With Australia still fighting for its preferred number, that conversation may be a heated one.

On Thursday, the draft 'Aratipu' report will be presented to the NZ Rugby board.

Although the report will simply consist of recommendations that Rugby Australia have no mandate to implement, that's where the talking - and negotiating - between the respective unions will begin.

Join us at 7pm Saturday for live updates of the Hurricanes v Blues Super Rugby Aotearoa clash

Rugby: 'This isn't a charity' - All Blacks coach Ian Foster's blunt message to Australian Super Rugby