EDINBURGH, Nov 1 (Reuters) – A return to test rugby has come as something of a bonus, and a career boost, for new Scotland flanker Jack Dempsey, who made his debut at the weekend against his old Australia teammates.
Dempsey won 14 caps for the Wallabies but after a three-year hiatus was able to debut for Scotland, taking advantage of World Rugby’s new eligibility rules, and coming on as a replacement in Saturday’s 16-15 loss to Australia.
Dempsey qualifies through a Scottish grandfather but said his move to Glasgow Warriors two months ago, after seven seasons with the New South Wales Waratahs, had nothing to do with playing for Scotland
“I’m not going to lie, I came over here thinking my test career was probably over,” Dempsey told a news conference.
“I certainly didn’t come over here specifically to play test rugby because at that point the rule didn’t exist. So, it was unplanned and a bit of a curveball.
“For me, test rugby is a secondary of your club form, and it’s no secret that we had some really rough years at the Waratahs. That went hand-in-hand not only with my form, but also my fitness and going through injuries, so I struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“That’s why I needed that drastic change – and moving from Sydney to Glasgow is about as drastic as you’ll get. Not only rugby-wise, but lifestyle-wise. And the way the city and country have accepted me has just re-lit that fire inside me.”
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend wasted no time in picking Dempsey for the autumn internationals and he came on for the last 20 minutes at Murrayfield on Saturday.
“There was obviously a big build-up during the week, so I kind of readied myself,” he said.
“Even when the moment came, it was very strange. At one moment, on the other side of the scrum, was Hoops (former Wallaby captain Michael Hooper).
“I’d played every pro game with him before I moved over here. It stings in terms of the way we lost, but that’s test match rugby.”
Dempsey will now be hoping for another start when Scotland hosts Fiji on Saturday.
“The way that Scotland play, I feel like it suits me well. 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. There’s something brewing here, which I want to be part of.”
Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Michael Perry
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