A SOUTH African expansion of the Guinness PRO14 has moved a step closer after New Zealand announced their intention to leave Super Rugby.

The Kiwis are aiming to set up a competition for between eight to 10 teams, joining forces with Australia and involving a Pacific Islands team.

It will exclude South Africa and Argentina and is likely to prompt changes in the PRO14.

The Dragons were joined by the Southern Kings and Cheetahs in 2017. Those two franchises now look likely to be replaced by the four big hitters - the Stormers, Sharks, Bulls and Lions - to make it a PRO16.

The PRO14 announced in May that they had completed a deal worth around £120million with private investment firm CVC, who acquired a 28 per cent share of the league.

The Cheetahs have performed strongly since joining the PRO14, winning 26 of 55 fixtures and qualifying for the play-offs in their first campaign.

The Kings have triumphed just four times, with their first victory coming against the Dragons in a 45-13 drubbing in Port Elizabeth in 2018.