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The Farah Palmer Cup is set to be played this year in a modified format.
NZ Rugby confirmed yesterday the 13-team competition would kick off in late August.
All 13 unions — Southland is the only Mitre 10 Cup union not fielding a team — which took part in the competition last year will line up this season, with kick-off set for August 22.
The competition will consist of 39 matches and a revised format will have seven weeks of round robin play, before two weeks of playoff matches.
The teams will be split into North and South pools and the nine-week season will feature Black Ferns and New Zealand sevens players.
The southern pool is likely to include Otago, Canterbury, Tasman, Wellington, Manawatu and Taranaki, although that has yet to be confirmed.
A draw will be released at a later date.
Dunedin club teams will want to have their competition finished by the start of the Farah Palmer Cup, so it is likely to be a very short club season in Dunedin.
Otago won the Farah Palmer Cup second-tier championship last season, winning promotion to the premiership, but it has now understandably been converted to a different format.