South Africa v Wales: Scarlets prop Harrio O’Connor called up for the Springboks tour

Harri O'Connor was born in Northallerton in North Yorkshire
Harri O’Connor was born in Northallerton, North Yorkshire.

Harri O’Connor, Scarlets' prop, was called up to the Wales squad for their three-Test tour in South Africa.

O'Connor, 21 years old, has been added to the party as cover for Tomas Francis who has a back problem.

Wayne Pivac called O'Connor the second tight-head uncapped this month.

Sam Wainwright, Saracens front rower, replaced Leon Brown who was injured in what is now an 34-man squad.

Francis and Dillon Lewis, two additional specialists, are included.

O'Connor's Scarlets colleague and prop Samson Lee is out with an Achilles injury. WillGriff John is not up.

Pivac said Francis is currently recovering from a back injury, but that he believes Francis will be able to play for Ospreys in the Test on July 2.

Pivac stated that while we expect Francis to be 100% fit for the first Test, it is just a precautionary measure to ensure we have the numbers needed to pass.

“Tomas has just been suffering from a back niggle. It's been a constant problem throughout the season.

“We don't treat it with any special care. It's just a precautionary measure that we take to ensure we have enough numbers in training so we can be prepared as needed.”

Ospreys prop Tomas Francis has played 64 internationals for Wales
Tomas Francis is an Ospreys player who has played 64 internationals for Wales

Since his debut against Ospreys in January 2022, O'Connor has only played in nine competitive games.

He began that game, and was then followed by eight substitute appearances.

O'Connor was a graduate of the Bath academy before signing for Scarlets.

Through his father, who is from Bonymaen, O'Connor is Welsh qualified. O'Connor was a student at Llandovery College, and then played for Wales' Under-18s and Under-20s.

Before making his competitive debut, he gained experience with Nottingham's English Championship in 2020-21. He also participated in a friendly against Dragons for Scarlets before making his competitive debut.

O'Connor and Wainwright bring the total number of uncapped South African players to four. Cardiff number eight James Ratti and Leicester flanker Tommy Reffell complete the quartet.

Pivac stated that Harris is just one of many young players we are monitoring at all positions of the game.

“We spoke to the Scarlets guys and they are very positive about him. They think he's a great player and can take him to new heights in the future.

“He is one that we believe will benefit from this trip.”

Pivac stated that there were two young uncapped props in the squad. However, he added that while it was a concern if things didn't go according to plan, there are also opportunities for young players learn a lot and grow.

“There is no better way to learn” [experience] It is not easy to compete with the best athletes in any sport around the globe, but you have to admit that the South Africa scrum has been consistently the best.

They are not world champions because of that. [They] You will learn a lot from them. This is an exciting time for young people who are going on tours like this.

Pivac expressed confidence that Josh Adams, Tomos Williams, and Cardiff's Josh Adams will be healthy for the trip after they missed the 2021-22 season because of injury.

On Thursday, Captain Dan Biggar and the squad will meet alongside other England-based players.

Biggar is now fully recovered from the back injury he sustained in Northampton's Premiership semi-final loss to Leicester earlier in the month.

“He's had an excellent break, and his medical team have done a great job with him,” Pivac said.

“We have received reports almost daily from Dan. He is in good spirits, and he will be fine to go.

The opening Test between South Africa & Wales will take place in Pretoria. There will be two other games on Saturdays in Bloemfontein & Cape Town.

Wales squad for South Africa

Forwards (20). Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones, Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Dewi Lake, Sam Parry, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis, Harri O'Connor, Sam Wainwright, Adam Beard, Will Rowlands, Alun Wyn Jones, Ben Carter, Dan Lydiate, Josh Navidi, James Ratti, Taulupe Faletau, Taine Basham, Tommy Reffell.

Backs (14) Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy, Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar (capt), Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Patchell, George North, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams, Alex Cuthbert, Louis Rees-Zammit, Liam Williams.

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