Jack Dempsey wants to repay Scottish rugby for ‘relighting his fire’ after the former Wallaby’s recent decision to switch allegiance.
The 28-year-old Glasgow back-rower was born and raised in Sydney and won 14 caps for Australia between 2017 and 2019.
However, Dempsey recently made himself available for Scotland following a change in World Rugby’s international eligibility rules that mean a capped player can now switch allegiance to another country to which they have “a close and credible link via birthright”, so long as they undertake a three-year cooling-off period.
Coincidentally, Dempsey, who has a Scottish grandfather, made his debut for Gregor Townsend’s side in the second half of Saturday’s 16-15 defeat by the Wallabies, the side he last represented in their World Cup pool match victory over Georgia in October 2019.
“Look, I’m not going to lie. I came over here (to join Glasgow in 2021) thinking my Test career was probably over,” he said.
“I didn’t come over here specifically to play Test rugby. At that point, the rule didn’t exist. It was unplanned and a bit of a curveball, but I’ve loved every moment of it.
“After I got my cap, I said to the lads that I came over here in a bit of a weird place in my career. I wasn’t loving my rugby as much as maybe I used to.
“I’m just thankful that I made this move. Not only to Glasgow, but to Scotland. The way the city and country have accepted me has just re-lit that fire inside me over the past 14 months or so.
“I said to the boys that I hope I can repay this faith over the next few weeks, months or years – whatever it may be. I’m happy with the decision I made.”
Dempsey is confident he still has plenty to offer on the international stage.
“I wouldn’t have made this decision if I didn’t think I was up to it,” he said. “Not only playing at this level, but making a statement.
“The way that 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’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve only been in camp for about a week. I’ve only heard Gregor speaking in training for a week. He’s saying all the right things and he’s the kind of coach you can get behind.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting all the boys. There’s something brewing here, which I want to be part of.”
Dempsey made his debut as a 60th-minute replacement on Saturday and admitted it was “weird” facing his former nation.
“There was obviously a big build-up during the week,” he said. “There was always the possibility of this happening and I’d play against Australia, so I kind of readied myself.
“Even when the moment came, it was very strange. At one moment, on the other side of the scrum, was Hoops (Michael Hooper). I’d played every pro game with him before I moved over here.
“It’s good for the plot, that one – to play against your old team. I was just happy to get out there, get my first cap and be welcomed by all the boys into the family.”