Wallabies playmaker Matt Toomua believes an overhaul of the Super Rugby format is needed once rugby returns to action after the coronavirus lockdown.

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Speaking to rugby.com.au, the Melbourne Rebels star said that the competition – which features teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan – needs to be localised to feature teams in similar time zones.

“Maybe the model that we’ve got is a little bit aged and outdated and maybe we need to have a rethink,” the 30-year-old said.

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“I guess this is almost forcing us to do it, whether it be in the short term until those borders open or whether it be long-term into something else that’s a bit more sustainable, bit more domestically focused.

“I think there’s a lot of people who are wanting to have a domestic model for quite a while now, whether it be Australia-focused or Australia-New Zealand focused or something along those lines.”

The 2020 Super Rugby season was suspended midway through March after seven rounds of action due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and is set for a reduction to 14 teams next year following the axing of the Tokyo-based Sunwolves.

An anticipated increase in international airfares is expected once the crisis has passed, however, which could take its toll on the financially-embattled SANZAAR unions, who are already bracing for multi-million dollar revenue deficits this year.

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That could play into the hands of a Australian or trans-Tasman Super Rugby concept beyond this season, which could lead to a surge in fan interest that Toomua believes has waned over time.

“If I’m a Rebels member, what do I get? I get seven home games, maybe five against teams that I know, two or three against teams that I don’t know or don’t care about, and then three games that are in time zones that aren’t suitable,” he said.

“It’s just not, for me personally if I’m a supporter, I don’t think that’s an attractive product, I really don’t.”

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