Australian Rugby bosses have announced that they will introduce a new domestic rugby competition in 2014 which will be similar to South Africa's Currie Cup and New Zealand's ITM Cup.
The National Rugby Championship will feature eight-10 teams from across the country with Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver saying it will offer "the opportunity to introduce innovative rules to the game".
"This new competition will be a tremendous opportunity for rugby fans to support teams from across the country in a local competition that we hope will rival New Zealand's ITM Cup and South Africa's Currie Cup at a time of year when there is little local rugby being played," he said.
The tournament is designed to provide players with a pathway between club and Super rugby, and will be held annually at the end of the Super and club seasons from August to October.
Expressions of interest are being sought from existing clubs wanting to compete in their own right, clubs wanting to form a syndicate with other organisations such as universities, or new teams.
Applications for the new tournament will close on January the 13th and successful teams are expected to be announced by the end of February.
"This is a major vote of confidence in Australian rugby," Pulver told AAP.
"This competition will also offer the opportunity to introduce innovative rules to the game to improve the spectacle for our fans.
"We will continue to work with stakeholders at all levels of rugby, including at club level, to further improve the vital role they play to create elite players," he said.