The Glasgow Warriors No 8 will become eligible to play for Scotland next month and could potentially make his debut at Murrayfield on October 29 against Australia, the team who have already capped him 14 times.
Dempsey, 28, who was born in Sydney, but has Scottish family on his mother’s side, is able to switch because of a change to eligibility laws made by World Rugby.
As of January 1, 2022, capped players are allowed to transfer allegiance as long as they have spent the previous three years out of the international game and have “a close and credible link via birthright” to the country to which they are switching. In practice, this means that they, a parent or a grandparent must have been born in that country.
Dempsey, who has a grandfather from Glasgow, last played for Australia on October 11, 2019, against Georgia at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The player says he has spoken to both Scottish and Australian representatives and spent time in the close season weighing up his future.
“I addressed the summer as a big thinking, brainstorming operation. I went back to my roots, my parents were over here, and I got to meet my extended family, the Scottish side,” said Dempsey, who moved to Glasgow Warriors ahead of the 2021-22 season after seven years with the NSW Waratahs. “But I was also keeping an eye on both camps. There was the Argentina series and then Australia have been playing recently.
“Both teams have been playing promising rugby but in terms of my own situation I have pretty much made my mind up and I’m probably going to make an announcement in the next three or four weeks.”
Dempsey’s immediate focus is on making a winning start to the new campaign with Glasgow who face Benetton on Friday in the BKT United Rugby Championship opener. It’s the Warriors’ first competitive match since their 76-14 annihilation by Leinster in last season’s quarter-finals, a result which cost Danny Wilson his job and led to Franco Smith’s appointment as Glasgow’s new coach.
Dempsey, who had never experienced such a heavy defeat, said the result had left the players shaken and had led to a dramatic increase in their pre-season workload.
“When you lose that badly, and we’re talking about that Leinster game, we have the enforced changes - we get a new head coach in, and get a few new players in - but that mental reset in terms of a wake-up call…
“With how long and grindy a season is you’re obviously going to have ups and downs, but to have such a pitfall at the end of that degree really shakes everything to the core. You know, I haven’t really been a part of a team like that before.
“Pre-season is the ultimate tool that reflects that. The S&C coaches went through some numbers comparing it to this time last year and we’ve literally doubled in terms of miles run and weights lifted. We’ve more than doubled in terms of weekly load.
“Working hard is one thing, working smart in another, and hopefully under Franco we’ve found that balance.”