The NZRU hopes to put the licence to run the Highlanders Super Rugby franchise up for grabs this year.
The Highlanders did everything but beat the Chiefs, and now will have some extra time to reflect.
Fair to say Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph is a member of the Chiefs admiration club.
Malakai Fekitoa came south looking for more opportunities and with one searing run up the middle of Dunedin Stadium it quickly became obvious that he'd made the right decision.
Poll:Jamie Mackintosh doesn't believe he has a point to prove when unbeaten New Zealand outfits the Chiefs and Highlanders meet in Hamilton on Saturday night.
Mark down Central Southland College student and versatile sportsman Stewart Thomson as a young rugby player destined for higher honours.
When Nasi Manu limped out to front the media after the Highlanders' win, it was almost painful to watch.
POLL: The underdog Highlanders blistering start against the Blues was enough to earn the team a halftime standing ovation in Dunedin.
The Highlanders have beaten the Blues 29-21 in an entertaining contest in Dunedin tonight.
It's a tough opening assignment for the Highlanders in Dunedin as they come up against the Blues.
Forget the underdog tag, Chris King isn't wearing it and the veteran prop has full belief in the Highlanders.
As many as five Highlanders players could make their Super Rugby debuts against the Blues on Saturday night.
Highlanders go down narrowly in final preseason trial.
Highlanders co-captain Nasi Manu's foot will never heal properly, but otherwise he feels close to his best ahead of the start of the Super Rugby season.
The Highlanders take on the Waratahs in Newcastle tonight in a game that is part dress rehearsal, part trial.
Last year was a forgettable year with the Highlanders for All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith.
The Highlanders will welcome back their two All Blacks - Ben and Aaron Smith - for their final pre-season game against the Waratahs on Friday night.
The Highlanders will welcome back their two All Blacks for their final preseason game.
A significant sponsorship deal with Otago University has provided the Highlanders Super Rugby team with a much-needed financial boost.
The University of Otago will be one of the Highlanders major sponsors for at least the next two years.
NATHAN BURDON IN MOTUEKA - © Fairfax NZ NewsThe Highlanders may not replace like with like after losing utility back Buxton Popoali'i for the season.
Aaron Smith described last year's disastrous Highlanders season as one of the most difficult periods of his life.
There's plenty for the Highlanders to work on in tonight's second preseason outing against the Crusaders.
Highlanders Buxton Popoali'i is to undergo heart surgery, ruling him out of the entire Super Rugby season.
He will co-captain a team most people expect to struggle, but Ben Smith is determined to fire for the Highlanders.
The Highlanders will roll out a more experienced line up for Friday night's game against the Crusaders.
You might be more interested in Corey Anderson's strike rate and when summer is going to finally arrive, but rugby will allow itself to be ignored only for so long.
Odds are high Lima Sopoaga won't be treating himself to an extra slice of cake when he blows out the candles for his 23rd birthday.
The Highlanders will look to "flush" a horror 2013 season beginning with a preseason game against the Brumbies in Queenstown on Friday.
The Highlanders will trial a new-look team in a pre-season game against the Brumbies on Friday night.
Everywhere Scott Eade goes at the moment he gets asked the same question - nine or 10?
His contract may stipulate that he can't be axed on team performance, but Jamie Joseph knows his future will be subject to debate.
It was a top year for sport in Southland, here are some of the highlights.
Jamie Mackintosh has moved to the Chiefs to shake himself from his comfort zone and force his way back into All Black contention.
The message is simple for Southland football fans leading into Sunday's national premiership game in Invercargill - support it or lose it.
Andrew Hore's future now lies in farming and playing for the Maniototo Maggots.
DON WRIGHT - © Fairfax NZ NewsSouthland rugby, cycling, gun-dogs and racing identity Kevin Laidlaw is now a legend on two counts.
Two Southlanders have been named as finalists in the New Zealand Rugby Union's annual awards.
Expect more kicking from the Highlanders next season.
Ben Smith and Nasi Manu will co-captain the Highlanders next season.
Jamie Joseph wants to play down talk the Highlanders aren't interested in local players.
It's been one of the better weeks of Stags prop Nick Barrett's rugby career as he signs for the Chiefs.
The Highlanders "high-profile" signing, to be officially announced at noon today, has turned out to be Otago coach Tony Brown.
David Henderson is keen to remain at the helm of the Stags, as long as he's wanted.
Just who is the masked man the Highlanders are touting as today's "high profile" signing?
Marty McKenzie will cheer on his team-mates from Invercargill after succumbing to an ankle injury which has ruled him out of tomorrow's championship semifinal against Tasman, in Blenheim.
Shane Christie says he and his Tasman team-mates are simply having a lot of fun at the moment.
Southland have received encouraging news with Josh Bekhuis all set to play against Counties Manukau.
Poll: The decision to axe Invercargill as a Super Rugby host is a commercial decision Highlanders GM says.
When David Hall ran out for his Southland debut 11 years ago, it was a career crossroads.