Newcastle Falcons prop Franck Montanella has left the Aviva Premiership club with immediate effect.
The Journal can reveal the Frenchman has already departed Kingston Park despite no official announcement being made, and will play no further part in their mission to remain a top-flight club.
The 31-year-old joined the Falcons in the summer from relegated London Welsh and started the first four games of the league season before getting injured in the 16-11 victory at bottom club Worcester in the first week of October.
Since then the former French international, capped once in 2007, has made four bench appearances and a single start in the LV= Cup at Saracens – Rob Vickers having dominated the loose-head berth.
The Journal understands Montanella flew back to his homeland last week, and that a compromise agreement has been reached to release him from the remainder of his contract.
Since then the club’s propping options have dwindled further with the news England Saxon Kieran Brookes is suspended until late April after being handed a six-week ban earlier in the week.
That was for a push on referee Greg Garner during Sunday’s 41-18 home defeat to Leicester, and means he will be unavailable for the league games against Gloucester, Worcester, London Irish and Saracens.
That leaves Vickers, Gary Strain, Oliver Tomaszczyk, Scott Wilson, Grant Shiells and senior academy player James Hallam as the only available props, the Premiership registration deadline having passed at the end of last month.
Newcastle have also confirmed the departure of Scottish three-quarter Michael Tait, who has joined Edinburgh until the end of next season.
The 23-year-old son of ex-Falcons director of rugby Alan Tait has already spent time with the Rabodirect Pro 12 club this season, but has now made the move permanent after agreeing a compromise with the Kingston Park club.
Tait has not figured for Newcastle this season, partially due to injury, the former Scotland Under-20s cap hoping a fresh start north of the border can reinvigorate his professional career.
He said: “I’m really chuffed to get signed up. I couldn’t believe it when I heard from Edinburgh. I loved my time at the club in September and wanted to stay, but I was recalled by Newcastle.”
Tait, who also played National One rugby for Tynedale during his stay in the North East, added: “I like to get down and work hard, and the club and the players are certainly doing that. This is a massive opportunity. I’m going to grab it with both hands and give it everything I’ve got.”