Ireland face a trilogy of internationals next month: South Africa, Fiji and Argentina will all visit the Aviva Stadium in November. Ireland will have to face them without centre Garry Ringrose, who has failed to recover from a shoulder injury.
Ringrose was perhaps unfortunate to miss out on the Lions tour, but did play with Ireland on the summer tour of Japan. It was on this tour that he damaged his shoulder, and was subsequently forced to have surgery to mend it.
It was hoped that Ringrose may be fit to play by November, but Leo Cullen confirmed to the media after Saturday's Champions Cup win over Glasgow that Ringrose will be unavailable until December, therefore ruling him out of Ireland's internationals.
With Jared Payne still unavailable, it means that Irish fans may well see some variety at centre next month. Robbie Henshaw has been wearing 13 for Leinster in Ringrose's absence, and Joe Schmidt may well decide to give Henshaw the same green-clad jersey. It will also offer an Irish opening to one Bundee Aki. He is now eligible to play for Ireland, under the three-year residency rule.
It would offer Schmidt a chance to replicate the Henshaw/Aki axis so critical in Connacht's remarkable Pro12 success of 2015/16.