They are two of the less fashionable provinces but Hawkes Bay and North Otago are also genuine success stories. Rugby writer Hayden Meikle talked to the chief executives of the respective unions to get their feelings on where the game is heading.
Highlanders coach Glenn Moore has revealed his concern at the discipline issues and fundamental errors that are spoiling the promising signs his side has shown in the Super 14.
Adam Thomson. He has had enough of being on the losing side but Adam Thomson can also allow himself some personal satisfaction at being where he wants to be.
Waratahs 15 Highlanders 12 You can't fault the Highlanders for the commitment and effort they have showed in the first rounds of the Super 14.
If Otago rugby is a microcosm of New Zealand rugby, then these are indeed trying times. Richard Reid is the new man charged with getting a faltering union back on track, and he tells Hayden Meikle why he thinks it shouldn't be difficult.
Mike Delany is hardly a rookie but he will take one of the most significant steps in his career when he starts a Super 14 game for the first time tonight.
Craig Newby will shortly resume normal service and stand-in captain Jason Macdonald has no intention of handing back a Highlanders side that does not have a win on the board.
Highlanders winger Lucky Mulipola might not be so unlucky after all.
He is the new Volcano and the Highlanders hope he will erupt this weekend to help the side record its first win of the season.
There is now no question the Highlanders are a side of promise, but that can only get you so far in the Super 14.
Some rugby players, especially those in the more visible positions, quickly find themselves with a label on their backs.
Get excited and be prepared to fight for the jersey - those are coach Glenn Moore's final messages to his players as they prepare to begin their Super 14 season with a game against the Reds in Brisbane tonight.
Elves are light-footed, pointy-eared creatures who live in mystical lands and prance delicately through the trees. ELVs are slightly more complicated and may have a massive impact on the once-simple game of rugby.
It was certainly some sort of year. The Bulls shucked off the memories of their horrible early days in the Super 12 by winning an all-South African final against the Sharks, and the Springboks romped to a second World Cup title in France without having to play the All Blacks, the Wallabies or the host nation.
Call it the resumption of normal service. There is no reconditioning plan to disrupt the New Zealand teams in the Super 14 and it seems highly likely the trophy could return to these shores as a result.
Southland's next All Black. Future All Black captain. The next big thing. They are big expectations. But Jamie Mackintosh is a big boy with big dreams, and he has been handling the spotlight with aplomb since it first fell on his ample frame when he was wearing a Southland Boys High School 1st XV jersey.
It is a horrible cliche in sport but 2008 represents the very definition of a fresh start for the Highlanders.
Craig Newby, Hoani MacDonald and Aaron Bancroft will be missing when the Highlanders play the Reds on Friday night but Steven Setephano and James Wilson are rated possible starters.