Jordi Murphy may be moving closer to an Ireland recall after being withdrawn from the Ulster side for Friday's PRO14 opener against the Ospreys.
The back row was desperately unlucky to miss out on selection for the 31-man travelling party for Japan, with head coach Joe Schmidt name-checking Murphy as someone who was on standby in case of injury.
It looks like that prospect has edged closer, after Ulster pulled Murphy from their team despite naming their Ireland star to start at Kingspan Stadium.
Murphy could be required in Japan if Jack Conan fails to recover from a foot injury suffered in training. The big number eight made a strong contribution off the bench in the opening pool win over Scotland, and was in line to start against Japan - before picking up a foot injury ahead of the team announcement.
If Conan's injury is enough to keep him out for a number of weeks, Murphy is likely to be flown over to Japan to join the Ireland squad.
Ireland coach Greg Feek revealed that the Ireland management would know more only after today's game against the hosts where a win would see Joe Schmidt's side all but through to the quarter-finals.
"At this stage, it's just a wait and see," he said. "We're going to get some opinions on that over the next couple of days and then go from there.
"It's a little bit of a setback at this stage but I think once we get the game out of the way and we get the reports in from medical and the strength and conditioning team, we'll probably have some more information on that. Probably after the game, I'd say."
Murphy was replaced in the Ulster team by Sean Reidy, with Clive Ross coming onto the bench. Ulster went on to win the game 38-14, opening the campaign with a bonus-point win.