Pressure is escalating from both sides of the Tasman for New Zealand Rugby to agree to a full contingent of Australian teams in any post-Super Rugby franchise competition from next year.
NZR will next week unveil its preferred model in the wake of widespread media speculation it will favour an eight-team competition, featuring the five Kiwi franchises, two or three from Australia and possibly one from the Pacific.
Such a format would be unpalatable to Rugby Australia, which is reportedly ready to reject any proposal that doesn't feature its five Super Rugby AU teams.
RA chairman Hamish McLennan told the Sydney Morning Herald the trans-Tasman relationship had devolved to a "master-servant" dynamic which betrayed a rich heritage.
McLennan said losing Australia's larger population base and economic strength would be body blow to NZ Rugby and that he was prepared to walk away and establish an alternative Australian-only competition.
There are also strong suggestions RA's offer of pool games to NZ if it wins hosting rights for the 2027 World Cup will be withdrawn if it isn't met halfway.
McLennan echoed the words of Waratahs coach Rob Penney, a Kiwi, who said on Thursday NZ Rugby would shoot itself in the foot if it didn't open the door to a greater Australian influence.
NZR Chief executive Mark Robinson wouldn't comment on speculation and said he had yet to hear Australia's preferences.
Robinson said his board would only see details of the Aratipu review into future competitions for the first time next week.
There is speculation NZ bosses won't stomach a half-and-half cut of teams because of the perceived weakness of the Australian teams, which would dilute fan engagement.
McLennan last month admitted Australia lacks NZ's player and team depth.
However, the Australian cause received a boost from respected Blues assistant coach Tom Coventry, who believed it was important to retain close ties with Australia to help haul up their standards.
He backed the thoughts of new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who believed the Australian national team would improve quickly if its players were exposed to a fully-fledged trans-Tasman competition.
"He needs to see them in a trans-Tasman series pushing the Kiwi teams. We all want that to happen as well," Coventry said.
"You watch them play the opening round (of Super Rugby AU) and some good football was being played. There are some good young coaches over there, they're being mentored well, and they're in a state of rebuilding.
"They just need a good competition to grow that and that's why we'll probably play a big part in helping them grow."