These are nervous times for the Hurricanes.
TJ Perenara's ongoing flirtation with the Sydney Roosters is merely the tip of their contracting challenges, with fellow headline All Blacks Ngani Laumape, Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett all free to look elsewhere this year.
The Wellington franchise has endured a difficult 2021 as it is, winning one of six games prior to Friday's match with the Chiefs in Hamilton to sit last in Super Rugby Aotearoa after losing first five-eighths Simon Hickey and Jackson Garden-Bachop to season-ending injuries and being forced to roll out rookie halves each week.
Dane Coles delivered some rare good news when he re-signed with the Hurricanes and New Zealand Rugby through to 2023. Otherwise, though, the 2016 Super Rugby champions are near unrecognisable from that breakthrough campaign.
Now they sweat on the quest to retain, or in the case of Perenara regain, their leading All Blacks.
Four of the team's most senior, high-profile players coming off contract in the same season leaves Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee and his team much work to do.
"It's a big focus for us," Lee said. "You don't necessarily have that many of our All Blacks who are at that stage. We're really keen to get a great result.
"They're all massively influential on our organisation and team. It's not like you have a pecking order, either, they're all really important. Some of them are different timelines based on their desire to come to a conclusion."
Perenara is off contract while he cashes in with the Red Hurricanes in the Japanese Top League. After intimating he planned to return to the capital, Perenara is now seriously pondering a move to join the Roosters in the NRL.
Despite his deep passion for Porirua and the Hurricanes, there are no guarantees he will be back.
With rookie halfbacks Luke Campbell, Jonathan Taumateine and Cam Roigard attempting to fill the void this season, the Hurricanes are desperate to soon secure Perenara's services.
"In the next couple of weeks we'd like to make some progress and so would TJ and his manager so we're aligned there," Lee said. "We're not too sure how long TJ will be in Japan, depending on whether his team are in the playoffs.
"Naturally we've seen the reports and the interest from other teams so there needs to be a resolution for everyone."
Savea's contract negotiations are unlikely to be straightforward, either. Last year he expressed a desire to play rugby league, saying he wanted to test himself with a new challenge and that a change of codes would open the door for him to represent Samoa.
Given that desire to connect with his family heritage, Moana Pasifika's introduction from next season may also appeal, and there will be no shortage of offshore suitors for the world-class loose forward.
Losing their captain to a rival team or code would be a devastating blow to the Hurricanes.
"Julian [Savea] has just re-signed for a couple of years," Lee said. "Ardie is a massive part of what we do so keeping him is massively important."
For a team that's seen leaders such as Beauden Barrett and Brad Shields depart in recent seasons, retaining Savea and Jordie Barrett is imperative for rebuilding. Both are figures you can shape a team around.
Without an established playmaker Jordie Barrett's influence on the Hurricanes backline and general game-management over the past two years is significant. He is their goal-kicker, director and strike weapon rolled into one.
"Jordie has been a star for us the last few years," Lee said. "We're talking to him and his manager and that will carry on. We're aware these guys are in demand.
"We're really confident they are happy at the Hurricanes, they love the team, but we fully appreciate they have choices so we don't take them for granted.
"We just need to do our best and keep in regular dialogue with them but be respectful most of those guys have full time commitments now with matches so you have to pick your moments."
The Blues flew Jordie Barrett to Auckland last year in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to lure him to play alongside his older brother, but having only signed a one-year deal with the Hurricanes, Lee is preparing for another attempted raid.
"I would assume so. The Blues have shown their interest before and I don't see why that would've changed. They've got Stephen Perofeta and others who have played fullback. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is coming in, you just don't know what's on their agenda, but I'd be surprised if they didn't."
Jack Goodhue's season-ending knee injury may change the picture for the All Blacks this season but Ngani Laumape has fielded interest from Paris-based Stade Francais. Restricted to 15 tests in the past four years while regularly sitting behind other midfield contenders, Laumape is likewise weighing his future after recently turning 28.
New Zealand rugby's depth is not what it used to be, so the Hurricanes can ill afford to lose any more pivotal All Blacks.