TWO former Crymych RFC players will be in contention for a first international cap this autumn.

Josh Macleod has a received call-up into Wayne Pivac’s 37-man Welsh squad, and just hours later Stephen Varney was selected for the full Italy squad.

Both countries have Six Nations games to finish off and will also be competing in the Autumn Nations Cup, which will replace the usual fixtures with touring teams at this time of year.

Macleod, 23, was in outstanding form for Scarlets when the coronavirus pandemic curtailed matters, and since the resumption of professional rugby has picked up where he left off.

The former Ysgol Bro Gwaun pupil and Crymych RFC player, who also played for Wales-20s, can play anywhere in the back row but has packed down at openside flanker for his region of late.

It’s the news surrounding Varney however, another ex-Crymych player, which is perhaps most intriguing.

Ignored by Wales at age group level, the scrum half utilised his option to play for Italy Under-20s, for whom he qualified through his mother Valeria.

The 19-year-old is now at Gloucester and has been in outstanding form in the English Premiership, and now Italian coach Franco Smith has taken the chance to get him involved at senior level.

It is not surprising that young Varney, from Rhoshill, near Cardigan, is making a name for himself in the rugby world as his father Adrian, a lecturer at Coleg Ceredigion in Cardigan, was a talented openside flanker with Neath from 1987 to 1994.

Not so long ago the teenager gave up rugby to concentrate on golf, but after being accepted to study sport science at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire he was snapped up by the English Premier giants and now Italy.

After his international selection the popular and amicable Varney said: “I am honoured and proud to have been called up and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

The Gloucester Academy manager and England Under 20’s coach Richard Wiffin said:asc “Stephen has excelled in his development, his excellent skill and vision to see space making him one of our standout academy players:

“I have no doubt that his desire and commitment will see him develop into a top professional,” he said.

Wales squad:

Forwards: Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Ryan Elias (Scarlets), Sam Parry (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Leon Brown (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Will Rowlands (Wasps), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues), Cory Hill (Cardiff Blues), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons), Ross Moriarty (Dragons), Taulupe Faletau (Bath), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Josh Macleod (Scarlets).

Backs: Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Kieran Hardy (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Northampton), Rhys Patchell (Scarlets), Callum Sheedy (Bristol), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Nick Tompkins (Dragons), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Johnny Williams (Scarlets), George North (Ospreys), Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues), Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester), Jonah Holmes (Dragons), Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets), Ioan Lloyd (Bristol), Liam Williams (Scarlets).