Western Force will look to South Africa to fill their final Super Rugby vacancy after exiled Wallaby James O'Connor ended talks with the club to play in Europe.
The Force have always had a plan B if O'Connor did not return but options for a quality replacement within Australian ranks are slim and they still have one overseas development player spot available.
"We will open talks with players soon," Force chief executive Mark Sinderberry said.
"We have always had a few players in the background for this contingency."
O'Connor wants to play in Europe for "a few months", return to Australia in the New Year and continue talks with the Force about a longer-term deal.
"I contacted Western Force to inform them of my short-term move overseas but my management and I are continuing discussions with the Force about a longer-term partnership," he said.
Sinderberry said the club would be happy to reopen talks in the future, however the only chance O'Connor has of playing next season would be if the Force were hit by an injury crisis and he could get a release from any new contract. Not playing for the Force rules O'Connor out of the Wallabies in 2014 as the ARU will only select players committed to Australian rugby.
If he played the full European season, he would finish in May but would then have to find a Super club for 2015, giving him just 16 games to prove himself to the Wallabies for the World Cup.
The decision to turn down the Force will also hit O'Connor hard financially, as Super contracts do not start until December.
O'Connor was dumped by the ARU after a string of indiscretions including being led from Perth Airport by police after a dispute with staff last month.
The Force have been uncompromising in their resolve to build a strong culture and the gap between what they were demanding and what O'Connor could give may have become too big.
He would have had to return on the Force's terms and his contract would have been heavily laden with conditions.
Force coach Michael Foley needed O'Connor totally committed to what he and his senior players have established.
"The Western Force has laid strong foundations of standards and values, particularly around earning respect, and our discussions with James included on and off-field programs that we believed could assist him in becoming the player he aspires to be and to develop himself as a person," Sinderberry said.
O'Connor said he was in talks with several clubs. English Premier club London Irish have made recent inquiries.
"I have decided that I will be moving overseas next month as part of a short-term playing contract," O'Connor said.
"I believe the move, for a few months, will be beneficial for me to develop in a different environment and help me be the best rugby player and person that I can be."