ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar says it's up to players and coaches to change the perception of Australian rugby as an uncertain future sparks a trans-Tasman slanging match.
McKellar believes a trans-Tasman competition would be the best model for 2021 and beyond but Rugby Australia could go it alone amid speculation their counterparts prefer an eight-team model with two or three Australian sides.
Australian officials could then be forced to cull another team or two and relive the messy fiasco caused by the Western Force's exit before they returned to Super Rugby AU this year.
There are concerns about whether Australia has the player depth at its disposal to field five competitive teams against New Zealand sides.
McKellar says the onus is on Australia's clubs to prove doubters wrong as the Brumbies brace for a seven-hour round trip to Sydney Olympic Park for their clash with the NSW Waratahs on Saturday.
"[New Zealand teams] probably like to think at the moment they're a step up on the Australian sides, and it's our job to make sure we change that," McKellar said.
"It's a competition that would have good tribalism, it would be a really good product, the best in Australia playing against the best in New Zealand.
"We can only control what we can control, and that's this competition we're currently in and making sure we get our preparation right for the Waratahs this week, and then roll into the Force next week.
"I'm not going to lie, [Brumbies chief executive] Phil Thomson has been direct there in saying we need to get some answers as soon as possible.
"On the other hand, we know Rugby Australia, the CEO, the chairman and those guys are working hard in the background with all the other people to make sure rugby in this country is in a good position in 2021 and beyond."
Meanwhile, Tom Banks is poised to end a 125-day wait when he makes his Brumbies return for a bitter clash with the Waratahs.
Banks will return from a foot injury to take the No. 15 jersey, with Mack Hansen shuffling back onto the bench after deputising in the rebooted season opener.
The Brumbies will field an otherwise-unchanged side while Karmichael Hunt has been drafted into the starting XV for the Waratahs following a stellar showing off the bench last week.
Joey Walton shifts to outside centre for the Waratahs, while Alex Newsome moves to the wing and rookie Mark Nawaqanitawase goes to the bench. Tom Robertson comes into the front row after four months out (back), while Tom Horton earns his first Super Rugby start at hooker.
"We got the better of them back on March 15, they've made some changes around their coaching staff. It's a changing of the guard there," McKellar said.
"They've got a good group of young footballers who are full of enthusiasm and full of energy. They're well-led, [Michael] Hooper has played as well in the past couple of weeks as he has all season. He's in good form, it's going to be a tough challenge for us.
"It's the Brumbies and the Waratahs, the old rivalry. We always get excited for this and this week is certainly no different."
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND THREE
Saturday: NSW Waratahs v ACT Brumbies at Sydney Olympic Park, 7.15pm.
Brumbies squad: 1. James Slipper, 2. Folau Fainga'a, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Murray Douglas, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Tom Cusack, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Tom Wright, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Andy Muirhead, 15. Tom Banks. Replacements: Connal McInerney, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Lachlan McCaffrey, 20. Will Miller, 21. Issak Fines, 22. Bayley Kuenzle, 23. Mack Hansen.
Waratahs squad: 1. Tom Robertson, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Ned Hanigan, 5. Rob Simmons (c), 6. Lachlan Swinton, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Jack Dempsey, 9. Mitch Short, 10. Will Harrison, 11. Alex Newsome, 12. Karmichael Hunt, 13. Joey Walton, 14. James Ramm, 15. Jack Maddocks. Replacements: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Tetera Faulkner, 18. Angus Bell, 19. Tom Staniforth, 20. Will Harris, 21. Michael McDonald, 22. Mark Nawaqanitawase, 23. Ben Donaldson.