London Irish have completed the signing of Facundo Gigena, the 26-year-old loosehead who was released on Monday by Leicester along with Blake Enever, who has headed home to Australia after less than a year in England. 

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Gigena joined the Tigers in January 2018 from Argentine Super Rugby team, the Jaguares. The 26-year-old made 45 appearances since his debut in an Anglo-Welsh Cup win over Cardiff Blues at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in January 2018. 

The prop missed part of the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership campaign after having to return to South America due to visa issues before returning to Tigers midway through the restarted season. He has now quickly joined Irish as a free agent following his top-of-the-week release from Leicester. Gigena said: “I’m happy to be here and really looking forward to my time with London Irish.

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“When the opportunity arose to join the club, I jumped at it – and I can’t wait to get started now. The club has made a positive start to the season and I am keen to play my part in helping the boys continue to improve and push on.”

Director of rugby Declan Kidney added: “We’re pleased to welcome Facundo to the club. He arrives with a strong pedigree of performing in the Premiership for the last three years and will add to our pack.”

Irish lost tighthead Sekope Kepu on Monday due to personal reasons, the prop telling the club he had no option but to return to New Zealand. “While we are desperately disappointed, in these unprecedented times, we understand the human element of Sekope’s situation,” added Kidney. 

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High-flying Irish now head to defending champions Exeter next Saturday on the back of a three-match unbeaten run, a dramatic draw at Harlequins followed by convincing home wins at Brentford over Newcastle and Gloucester. 

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