Head coach Wayne Pivac has called up another uncapped player as injury concerns emerge just days before the Wales squad leaves for South Africa to face the Springboks.
Pivac has added 21-year-old prop Harri O’Connor to his tour group, meaning that 34 players will board the plane on Thursday.
He also tried to allay fitness fears about captain Dan Biggar, who took a blow to his back during the English Premiership semi-final defeat of Northampton by Leicester earlier this month.
O’Connor’s selection takes the number of uncapped players to four, with fellow prop Sam Wainwright, Leicester flank Tommy Reffell and Cardiff No 8 James Ratti also in the touring party.
Pivac on Tuesday explained the reasoning behind the shock call-up for rookie O’Connor, who has just nine games for Scarlets under his belt.
“There is no better learning than going up against the best in the world in any sport and at the moment you would have to say the South African scrum has probably shown it has consistently been the best in the world,” Pivac said.
“Their lineout drive is superb, their forward play is probably second to none. They are not world champions for nothing.
“They are very, very good at what they do, so if you are a young guy going on tour and coming up against that, you are going to learn a lot.”
Pivac said that Wales face “probably the ultimate challenge” in tackling the world champions away from home at altitude.
The Welsh, whose poor Six Nations campaign ended with a dismal home defeat by Italy three months ago, have yet to beat the Boks in the Republic in 10 attempts.
Wales face Tests in Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Cape Town beginning on 2 July, with the opening two encounters being played in grounds at least 1,300m above sea level.
“In Test rugby, you want the ultimate challenge as players and coaches, and this is probably the ultimate challenge with South Africa at altitude and us coming off the back of our Six Nations and where they are at in their game,” said Pivac.
“From our point of view, it is a huge challenge. We are playing the world champions in their own backyard at altitude in the first two Tests in front of their own fans for the first time since they won the World Cup [in 2019].”
© Agence France-Presse