The Western Force’s Argentine contingent has been cut by one after star hooker Julian Montoya was forced to renege on his contract.

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Montoya had signed a short-term deal with the Force to play in the Super Rugby AU and the new trans-Tasman competition this year, but there was a visa issue with getting his family to Australia.

The 27-year-old has now linked up with English Premiership outfit Leicester Tigers instead.

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The 63-Test veteran had already committed to joining the Tigers for their 2021-22 Premiership campaign but he has been able to link up with them early after opting out of his Force deal.

Montoya was the starting hooker in Argentina’s historic 25-15 win over the All Blacks in Sydney, laying a series of big tackles to help set the platform for victory.

His signing by the Force was considered a major coup, but the Perth-based franchise will still have plenty of Argentine flavour this year in the form of Tomas Cubelli, Tomas Lezana, Santia go Medrano and Domingo Miotti.

Legendary Irish fullback Rob Kearney has also joined the revamped Force, along with Wallabies duo Tevita Kuridrani and Tom Robertson.

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Former All Blacks duo Richard Kahui and Jeremy Thrush have re-signed from last year, meaning the Force will boast plenty of international experience in 2021.

– Justin Chadwick

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