EP Kings' Tim Whitehead has confirmed he has left the franchise due to the ongoing pay dispute, which could see many players walk away from the club.
The players are yet to receive their October salaries and a ten-day deadline imposed by the South African Rugby Players Association expired on Tuesday, allowing players to legally break their contracts.
Whitehead is the first player to leave the club due to the issue, though it is rumoured at least five other players will follow suit shortly.
"These problems have been going on for a while, and it's been really tough for everyone affected," the 27-year-old told SA Rugby Mag.
"You just get to the point when enough is enough and you've got to make a difficult decision. I don't have anything else secured at the moment, obviously playing in Super Rugby would have been first prize.
"For me, it's about the lifestyle, and I'll look at whatever options there are, locally or abroad, and see what's out there."
The EP Kings are set to make their Super Rugby debut when they face the Sharks in Port Elizabeth on February 27, 2016.