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London Irish send an SOS to Super Rugby centre Billy Meakes

London Irish are urgently working to ease the loss of centres Terrence Hepetema and Matt Williams to injuries by making contact with former Gloucester back Billy Meakes.

Earlier this week the Exiles confirmed Hepetema will miss the start of the Premiership season with the broken wrist he suffered in September, while Williams’ outlook is far more severe with an ACL injury likely to keep him sidelined for up to nine months.

A short-term deal for Melbourne Rebels centre Meakes is now set to be concluded which will allow the 29-year-old to move back to England after previous spells at Clifton and Gloucester.

Despite appearing in all 16 matches for the Rebels last season, the arrival of Wallabies star Matt Toomua has offset Meakes’ regular run of games.

Uncapped at Test level but called up to the Wallabies squad for the Bledisloe Cup in 2018, Meakes will step in at inside centre for London Irish when their season starts with a trip to Sixways Stadium to face Worcester on November 21.

The injuries to Hepetema and Williams coupled with the release of Brendan Macken from his contract has left Irish threadbare at centre, with Curtis Rona and Phil Cokanasiga current options.

On Thursday, London Irish confirmed the signing of Moldova international Andrei Mahu from Krasny Yar.

The lock, 29, featured against Irish in the Challenge Cup three years ago and arrives in the Premiership as the third Moldovan to be signed by a club.

Moldova have been likened to Georgia for their ability to produce robust forwards, such as the Cobîlaș brothers, Vadim and Maxim, formerly of Sale Sharks.

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