Southland's Super Rugby set down to 9
Southland's Super Rugby representation looks set to reduce in 2013 with nine players expected to be announced this morning to play in next year's competition.
Yesterday the five New Zealand Super Rugby franchises met to finalise the remaining spots in their squads.
There aren't expected to be too many surprises when the teams are named this morning, with the bulk of the players in each squad already locked in and revealed before yesterday's final deliberations.
Following the 2011 national provincial championship season Southland had 12 players named on fulltime contracts in one of the Super Rugby franchises.
Chris King, Kendrick Lynn and David Hall played for Southland in 2011 before gaining a Super Rugby contract but headed to other provinces after that.
Tight-head prop Nick Barrett was with the Crusaders earlier this year but is not likely to be picked up by them or any other franchise for the 2013 competition.
Veteran hooker Jason Rutledge has also missed out on a contract after being with the Highlanders in recent seasons.
It is understood there has been some interest in Rutledge from Europe but the 34-year-old has turned down the opportunity and decided to stick it out in New Zealand and continue to push for a Super Rugby place.
Rutledge's spot in the Highlanders squad has been filled by fellow Stag Brayden Mitchell, who steps up from the wider-training squad and into a fulltime contract.
Another 2012 Southland Super Rugby representative, Jimmy Cowan, is now playing for Gloucester and will not return to the Highlanders next season.
Flanker Tim Boys missed out on a Super Rugby contract last season but will be in the Highlanders squad named today. He was called into the Highlanders setup late in the campaign as injury cover and impressed enough for coach Jamie Joseph to sign him up for 2013.
Another Southland newbie to Super Rugby in 2013 will be Marty McKenzie, who has been signed by Sir John Kirwan to play for the Blues.
McKenzie will likely fill the understudy role behind first choice fullback Charles Piutau.
Southland players retaining their Super Rugby contracts are likely to be Jamie Mackintosh, Josh Bekhuis, John Hardie, Elliot Dixon, Kade Poki and Robbie Robinson.
Last season's full contracts: Jamie Mackintosh, Nick Barrett, Chris King, Jason Rutledge, David Hall, Josh Bekhuis, John Hardie, Elliot Dixon, Jimmy Cowan, Kendrick Lynn, Kade Poki, Robbie Robinson.
Likely 2013 contracts: Mackintosh, Brayden Mitchell, Bekhuis, Hardie, Tim Boys, Dixon, Poki, Robinson, Marty McKenzie.
The Southland Times