Carbery and Hanrahan on Ulster's radar to fill ten slot
Already faced with the uncertain futures of several players for varying reasons, beleaguered Ulster coach Les Kiss must also plot a difficult start to 2018 by laying eyes on a new out-half once the Champions Cup pool stage is completed.
Regardless of whether Ulster qualify or not, their gifted short-term stop-gap, Christian Lealifano, will not be extending his stay and, if the Ulster boss cannot dip into the transfer marker at this most inconvenient time, he may be forced to scout another short-term deal.
And it may be one that already exists within the Irish system, with JJ Hanrahan - despite a strong denial from Munster yesterday - and Joey Carbery being touted as Ulster continue to exist without Jared Payne, Paddy Jackson and Charles Piutau among others.
"We've looked internally in Ireland and externally, and to try and get something to fit that part of the jigsaw is a challenge," said Kiss. "It's got to have some experience around it or something that can add value, it's not easy. It's a combination of things.
"There's really nothing out there, and if there's someone maybe available he's huge (wage). We don't have five or six hundred thousand, that's just the truth, and even if it's short term you're still paying pro rata at that rate, we don't have that money.
options "You have to find a fit first, who's going to give you the right experience level, who's going to fit how we play the game. We've got our eye out there, we're looking at things, Bryn Cunnningham (team manager) is constantly coming to me with names and options.
"We've got to have our due diligence in the right place, and be in communication with our stakeholders and the IRFU about where we going with it.
"We have a greater responsibility to the Irish product as well, that's important, apart from trying to be competitive. Both can be achieved if you're smart and have the right conversations, and get in front of the things that matter.
"Fly-half - would we be allowed to have a foreigner? Maybe, maybe not. That's a conversation that's unique, so there might be flexibility on it.
"There is a chance of a short-term loan. That's a possibility. If you're going to ask for someone, it's hard for them to release a guy because you can be down a player like that, it's such a challenge.
"If someone was going to come to me and say, 'You've heaps of centres'... then you've got Jared Payne out, then Luke Marshall out, then Stuart McCloskey goes to national camp, and I'm thinking, 'You go and win games without them'... it's not as easy as that."