Jack Dempsey desperate to pay off debt after Scotland switch saved his rugby career

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<p><figcaption class=Jack Dempsey (Picture: SNS)

Jack Dempsey promised to reimburse Scottish rugby for helping resurrect a rugby career he feared was running out of steam before deciding to head north to join Glasgow Warriors from the Waratahs in his native Australia in the summer of 2021.

The 28-year-old No.8, who was capped 14 times by Australia between June 2017 and October 2019, became the first player to switch between two Tier 1 nations thanks to World Rugby’s recently changed eligibility laws when he left the bench to Scotland on Saturday – and luckily his debut in dark blue was against the nation where he was born, raised and first made a name for himself as a player.

Dempsey admitted it was a strange feeling to line up against some of his oldest and best friends, but insists the whole experience reinforced his belief that casting his spell with Scotland was the best decision rugby he has ever taken.

“It’s good for the plot, that one – playing against your old team,” he reasoned. “If we had gotten that kick at the end it would have been the icing on the cake. But I was just happy to go out, get my first cap and be welcomed by all the boys in the family.

“There was always the possibility of that happening and I would be playing against Australia, so I kind of prepared myself, but when the time came it was very strange.

“At one point on the other side of the fray was Michael Hooper, who I had played every professional game with before moving here. I’m very close to a lot of these boys, so they know my story and my journey, and it’s all love. Winning my first Scottish cap against them is something I’ll never forget.

Dempsey has given long thought to whether to make himself available for Scotland – who he is qualified to represent through his Glasgow grandfather after completing the three-year mandatory withdrawal period since he was last capped in Australia – before finally coming to the conclusion that it was the right thing personally and for his adopted country.

“I wouldn’t have made this decision if I didn’t think I was up to it not only to play at this level, but also to make a statement,” he said. “The way Scotland play, I feel like it suits me well. Whether my role is to come off the bench and add impact, or add experience, I have excited to be there.

“I’ve only been at camp for about a week. I’ve only heard Gregor speak in training for a week, but he says it all and he’s the kind of coach you can support. There is something brewing here that I want to be a part of.

“I’m not going to lie, I came here thinking my Testing career was probably over,” he added. “I certainly didn’t come here specifically to play Test rugby because at that time the rule didn’t exist. So it was unplanned and a bit of a curveball.

“For me, the rugby test is a secondary of your club form, and it’s no secret that we had some really difficult years at the Waratahs. It went hand in hand not only with my form, but also with my physical condition and my injuries, so I struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“That’s why I needed this drastic change – and moving from Sydney to Glasgow is about as drastic as it gets. Not just in terms of rugby, but also in terms of lifestyle. And the way the city ​​and country accepted me just rekindled that fire in me.

“I loved every moment of it and after I was presented with my cap [on Saturday evening], I told the guys that I came here in a bit of a weird place in my career. I didn’t love my rugby as much as I used to, and that has reignited that fire under me for the last 14 months or so.

“I’m just grateful to have made this gesture. Not just in Glasgow, but in Scotland. I told the boys that I hoped to be able to repay that faith over the next few weeks, months, or years – whatever. That’s where I am. I’m happy with the decision I made. »

While Dempsey is clearly happy with his new surroundings and committed to the path he’s taken, he admits he sometimes feels a bit like a fish out of water.

“I grew up on Sydney’s North Shore, so I spent a lot of my childhood on the coast,” he explained. “I’m not at Michael Hooper’s level, but somewhere in the middle, and that’s maybe the biggest thing I’ve found since moving to Glasgow.

‘Going to Loch Lomond in the dead of winter isn’t quite Manly Beach, but I found other things about the culture and way of life in Scotland, I like.

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