Saru wants the 18th Super Rugby franchise to be based in Singapore due to travel concerns, while Australia is pushing for Japan's inclusion.
On Wednesday, Sanzar said the new team would come from Asia, with the final decision set to be announced by October. The bids will be assessed against the key criteria of commercial value, infrastructure, geographic location, rugby readiness and ongoing sustainability. The return of the Kings and a team based in Argentina were confirmed by Sanzar when the new format, which will come into effect from 2016, was announced in May.
Fairfax Media reports that with the new Asian franchise set to form part of the South African group, Saru would prefer its franchises to travel to Singapore, which is 11 hours by plane, rather than to Japan, which is 22. Singapore's bid is based around the Asia Pacific Dragons, a team owned by entrepreneur Eric Series, who also sponsors New Zealand rugby through his company Sealegs.
Australia's support for Japan is thought to be based on the country's comparatively strong rugby history, established infrastructure, local competition and World Cup hosting rights in 2019. New Zealand's position remains unclear.
Only a 3-0 unanimous vote will be good enough to gain an immediate sign-off, so mediation may be necessary to settle the dispute.