Sportal.co.nz 16.Jul.2012Getty Images
Reports from South Africa hint at the Lions retaining their place at the expense of the Southern Kings, the new franchise based in Port Elizabeth.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has reportedly been in negotiation with the Kings to delay their entry until the creation of a new broadcast agreement for the competition from the 2016 season.
The Kings would be paid financial compensation by SARU while also being included in the premier division of the Currie Cup from 2013.
It became obvious a change in approach would be needed by SARU after Sanzar chief executive Greg Peters told South Africa that no expansion was possible until the end of the existing broadcast contract on December 31, 2015.
There had been no likelihood of a merger between the Lions and Cheetahs and while the Lions were reportedly on the verge of bankruptcy and facing a disciplinary investigation in relation to suspended coach John Mitchell, their future in the competition appears safe.
A report in the Sunday Independent noted: "It is believed that the Kings have been less successful in luring top-flight players to the region than they anticipated and, rather than suffer the embarrassment of being routed from the unforgiving front-lines of Super Rugby battle next year, they will use the cash injection and Currie Cup premier league opportunity to prepare for their future promotion to the Sanzar competition."
However, Kings team officials denied the claims. Kings president Cheeky Watson said: "The rumours are false. There is definitely no such agreement with Saru. I think they are rumours that were started by people who want to sink the Kings.
"A decision has been made that we will play Super Rugby in 2013 and that is what we are striving for," he said.