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Jamison Gibson-Park and Jack Conan ruled out of Ireland's series against South Africa

Jamison Gibson-Park ruled out of Ireland's summer tour of South Africa due to injury; Conan unavailable due to personal reasons; Ulster's Cormac Izuchukwu receives first call-up; Watch Ireland face the world champions on July 6 and 13 live on Sky Sports

Ireland scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park
Image: Ireland will be without key man Jamison Gibson-Park against South Africa

Scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park and back-row Jack Conan will miss Ireland's two-Test series against world champions South Africa.

First-choice No 9 Gibson-Park is ruled out by a hamstring injury while Leinster team-mate Conan is unavailable due to personal reasons, with his wife due to give birth to their first child.

Andy Farrell has handed a first senior call up to Ulster forward Cormac Izuchukwu and included uncapped Leinster pair Jamie Osborne and Sam Prendergast in a 35-man squad captained by Peter O'Mahony.

Ireland take on the Springboks on Saturday July 6 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria and seven days later at Kings Park Stadium in Durban, with both games live on Sky Sports.

Ireland's Jack Conan reacts after the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard)
Image: Jack Conan won't feature for Ireland this summer

With full-back Hugo Keenan absent for the tour due to his participation in Ireland's rugby sevens squad at the Paris Olympics, Jimmy O'Brien makes a timely return from injury having sat out as Ireland retained the Six Nations earlier this year.

Hooker Rob Herring is also back after missing the championship triumph but Connacht wing Mack Hansen remains sidelined while Ulster lock Iain Henderson is out after undergoing toe surgery.

Connacht scrum-half Caolin Blade, who has two international caps, benefits from the absence of the influential Gibson-Park.

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Farrell: Ireland must hit ground running

Ireland's Conor Murray celebrates with team-mate after victory in the Rugby World Cup 2023, Pool B match at the Stade de France in Paris, France. Picture date: Saturday September 23, 2023.
Image: Ireland beat South Africa during the pool stages of last year's Rugby World Cup but it was the Springboks who won back-to-back titles

Ireland have won the last three meetings with South Africa, including a 13-8 success during the pool stage at last year's Rugby World Cup in France.

Yet the Springboks went on to retain the Webb Ellis Cup while Ireland once again exited at the quarter-final stage.

"Travelling to South Africa to play a Test series against the defending world champions provides no greater test for us, and it is another valuable opportunity for us to further grow and develop from the Six Nations," said Farrell.

"The group understands the need to hit the ground running, ensuring we are the best version of ourselves for the challenge ahead."

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Ireland's squad will meet in Dublin on Thursday to prepare for the tour before departing for Johannesburg next Tuesday.

Skipper O'Mahony said: "I am proud to be asked to lead Ireland in South Africa, a country which provides one of the toughest challenges in world rugby.

"As reigning world champions, South Africa will provide the sternest of tests and we know that we will have to perform at a high level to get the results we want.

"There's a lot of respect and familiarity between both countries in recent years at international and club levels, since they were invited to join the URC [United Rugby Championship] and European Cup competitions, and we know the challenge that awaits."

South Africa kick off their summer against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Action from 1.30pm (kick-off 2pm).

Ireland squad for tour of South Africa

Forwards: Ryan Baird, Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Beirne, Caelan Doris, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Cormac Izuchukwu, Oli Jager, Rónan Kelleher, Joe McCarthy, Peter O'Mahony (c), Tom O'Toole, Andrew Porter, Cian Prendergast, James Ryan, Dan Sheehan, Nick Timoney, Josh van der Flier.

Backs: Bundee Aki, Caolin Blade, Craig Casey, Jack Crowley, Ciarán Frawley, Robbie Henshaw, Jordan Larmour, James Lowe, Stuart McCloskey, Conor Murray, Calvin Nash, Jimmy O'Brien, Jamie Osborne, Sam Prendergast, Garry Ringrose, Jacob Stockdale.

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