There will be no trans-Tasman whitewash in Super Rugby this year says Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd, who describes the lop-sided results of 2017 as an aberration.
Boyd believes Australian teams will knock over Kiwi outfits this season on a regular basis.
It's as opposed to last year when New Zealand sides won every match against Australian teams.
Leading an apparent renaissance are the Melbourne Rebels, who top the table with four wins from five and host the Hurricanes on Friday.
Boyd says they and the other Australian sides are playing more rounded rugby which will reap rewards soon, although he's hoping not this week.
"Last year New Zealand had reasonable success against Australian sides and that was a bit of a one-off blip," he said.
"I'm not sure it'll be 50-50 but I think it'll be much closer than it was last year."
The arrival of playing personnel from the Western Force, along with their coach David Wessels, has transformed the Rebels, Boyd says.
With Australian halfback Will Genia pulling the strings, their playing style has become a compelling mix of physicality and attacking verve on the way to 28 tries.
"They've had a cracking start to the season. Genia's been big for them in a lot of their decision-making but they are strong across the park," Boyd said.
"They've got a couple of big ball-carriers in the forwards, which is challenging, and then they've got a big set of backs and some dangerous wingers. They're the real package."
The Rebels take on the Hurricanes on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.