Jack Dempsey open to playing for Scotland as Glasgow Warriors forward speaks on idea of switch, Australia and timescales

Glasgow Warriors forward Jack Dempsey has revealed he is open to the idea of becoming a Scotland international from the autumn.

Jack Dempsey has impressed since joining Glasgow Warriors.
Jack Dempsey has impressed since joining Glasgow Warriors.

The Sydney native made 14 appearances for the Wallabies from 2017 to 2019 but has not featured in an Australia squad since Dave Rennie became head coach after the last World Cup.

The 27-year-old said there had been “zero comms” from Rennie, the former Warriors head coach, about the prospect of a return to the Australian set-up, especially with him now playing his club rugby overseas.

That could open the door to a switch to Scotland under changes to the eligibility rules introduced by World Rugby from the start of the year that permit any player who hasn’t played international rugby for three years – and who has a credible link to the country they wish to represent – to make a one-time switch.

Dempsey has been capped 14 times for Australia.

Dempsey’s grandfather, Andrew Prentice, was Scottish and the former Waratahs forward still has a number of relatives living in the Glasgow area and in Ayrshire. His half-Scottish mum, Rose, is especially enthusiastic about the notion of her son pulling on a dark blue shirt.

Dempsey was coy on whether he and head coach Gregor Townsend had spoken directly about him opting for Scotland from October but did reveal there had been talks “behind the scenes” about the idea, including with Australian-born Warriors team-mate Sione Tuipolutu, who also became part of the Scotland set via a grandparent.

The No 8 – who has made a hugely positive early impression at Glasgow in his first season – intends on mulling the matter over in the summer but did admit he would be tempted, especially with the next World Cup in France just 18 months away.

He said: “I can’t really comment on [whether he’s spoken to Townsend] but there have been quite a few talks behind the scenes with various people.

Sione Tuipulotu's debut has caught the attention of Dempsey.

“Sione came over [to Glasgow] around the same time as me and has now played for Scotland so I’ve been able to ask him personal questions about his decision and how he came to it.

“He’s got a grandparent from Scotland the same as me. You look at their team and there are so many South Africans, Kiwis and Aussies so nationality is a grey area.

“And then you see the passion that those guys played with against England and you can tell that they’re clearly invested in what the team and country are trying to do. That appeals so much to me.

“My mum is pretty keen for me to play for Scotland as it’s her side of the family. All I can do for now is to try to take my rugby to another level so that both countries are competing for me. That would be the best case after two years of not being wanted by the national team.

“On paper, the idea of playing Test rugby again appeals, no matter who you’re playing for. But you’ve got to make sure you’re not taking it for granted.

“I know that once you change nationality you can’t change back plus you’d technically be an international player for an Australian franchise. And that could affect my decision to go home again one day to play. So there are so many different factors.

“I have until October to think about it so I won’t be making any decisions any time soon. I’m going to finish this season with the Warriors, go into my holiday break and review everything with some key people and get their advice.

“Growing up as a kid all I wanted to do was to play for Australia and I was lucky enough to fulfil that dream. So if you’re going to then commit to a whole different country you’ve got to make sure it’s for the right reasons. Not for money, fame or for anything other than a reason that matches your principles as a person. And that’s something that’s important to me.”

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