Exeter Chiefs have bolstered their squad with the signing of Argentinian prop Enrique Pieretto until the end of the season.
Chiefs’ Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, has moved swiftly to capture the 24-year-old forward following injuries to fellow tight-heads Tomas Francis and Greg Holmes.
Francis suffered a serious shoulder injury during Wales’ Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa in Japan and is now likely to be sidelined for up to four months following surgery.
Holmes, meanwhile, has been out of action with a troublesome Achilles injury since Exeter’s Premiership Rugby Cup game at Leicester Tigers back in September – and he too is not expected to return until the New Year.
The double blow is certainly untimely for Baxter, but on the flip side the arrival of Pieretto could not have come at more opportune time as the Pumas star – who featured at the World Cup – is currently in England and played for the Barbarians in Saturday’s clash against Fiji at Twickenham.
“After two or three scans it became clear that Tom needs an operation to repair the shoulder injury he picked up with Wales at the World Cup,” explained Baxter. “It’s not great news for us, but at least we know where we stand now.
“We’ve therefore moved pretty quickly not just because we’ve lost Tom, but also Greg’s Achilles has proved more problematic than we first thought. Again, he’s going to be out for two or three months, so we felt it was the right thing to do to strengthen ourselves at tight-head.
“That doesn’t mean we are not going to continue to develop guys like Marcus Street or Alfie Petch, but we don’t want to leave ourselves in a situation where another injury could leave us really stretched.
“Therefore, we looked on the marked and, as things happen, Enrique is over here playing for the Barbarians, he’s here, he’s ready to go, he’s played at the World Cup and with the Jaguares, and it just works for us to get him involved with the squad.
“We’ve been able to have a good look at a number of his games, both at club level and international level, and at 24 years of age, he’s looks a good tight-head. That said, we still feel we can work on him and get even more out of his game, which is hugely exciting.”
Pieretto has previously played alongside former fans’ favourite Santiago Cordero at both club and Test level – and is the latest Argentinian to be added to the Chiefs ranks over the years following in the stud marks of Cordero, Ignacio Mieres, Gonzalo Camacho and Ignacio Elosu.