BY opting to swap the North Shore of Sydney for the West End of Glasgow this summer, Jack Dempsey has effectively called a halt to his aspirations of adding to the 14 Wallaby appearances he already has under his belt until such time as he decides to head home. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but the 27-year-old back-rower is in absolutely no doubt that it was the right move for his own personal and professional development. 

In fact, he believes that had he stayed put then his career would have stagnated, meaning any discussion about adding to his cap haul would have been rendered hypothetical anyway. 

“There were a lot of reasons [why he chose to switch from the Waratahs to the Warriors] but the main one would be that from an individual point of view as a rugby player I was feeling I had plateaued over the last couple of years,” he explains. “You have to be playing well at club level to get into the national side, and I was lucky enough to play in the 2019 World Cup, but coming out of that I didn’t think I was growing as much as I could and should.  

“It made me want to get more experiences. Then, once I made that decision, I started looking at clubs, and when the opportunity to come to Glasgow arose it ticked all the right boxes. It just felt like the right fit.” 

HeraldScotland:

The 6ft 3ins Dempsey forged his reputation in Australia as a dynamic ball-carrier who uses footwork, evasion, handoffs and offloads – rather than blunt force trauma – to get round or through his opponents. He is good over the ball on the deck and mobile enough to play as an openside fetcher should the situation require it (although he is equally happy at blindside and No8 is his preferred position). 

So, what is he hoping to add to his game with this move to Glasgow Warriors, where he will work under head coach Danny Wilson? 

“The most obvious thing is that the weather is a lot more drastic here, and in some of the conditions we are going to be playing in, taking care of the ball is going to be crucial,” he replies. “How much more valuable line-out drives and scrum domination is, that’s something I am looking forward to growing more into my game. 

“Rather than just being a ball-carrier and a flat-out jackler of the ball, I want to be a line-out option and be able to fulfil a number of different roles.  

“I know from being on the phone to Danny when I was back home, and from speaking to people who have worked with him before, that he is very good at the technical aspects of the set-piece, so that’s what excites me most about this opportunity.” 

While Dempsey is keen to learn the European way of playing, he is aware that Wilson has not brought him here to forget the things that made him stand-out in the first place 

“Danny is a pretty black and white operator from what I’ve seen so far,” says the player. “He’s told me that he likes my explosive ball-carries and my ability to turnover ball in the breakdowns, and he’s looking for me to add depth in the back-row by doing that.  

“The history that Glasgow has with fast-paced footie – with quick ruck speed – is something which very much suits my game. So, it is kind of a combination of wanting a character like me to add depth and being that tool in the tool chest within the back-row, but also I do suit the identity and style that Glasgow want to play as well.”  

An added bonus for Dempsey is that there is a strong familial bond with the city through his maternal grandfather. 

HeraldScotland:

“He was born and raised in Glasgow, and he met my grandmother, who was Australian, over here,” he recounts. “They moved to out in the sticks of Western Sydney, and bought this little shed which my grandad built into the house my mum was brought up in.   

“It was our childhood home where we went for Christmas and Easter. My memories are of him being out the back, digging holes and building stuff. He was very hands-on, and he had this really thick Glaswegian accent.  

“He passed away when I was 12 but I was lucky to have that in my life and now I’m meeting his whole family over here. I was taken out by my cousins to where he grew up and everything like that on my first weekend here. It’s good to have that connection.  

“I think the oldest surviving relative is 91,” he added. “I haven’t met her yet but apparently she is a bit of a rugby nut so hopefully we can get the whole clan together and watch a bit of rugby.   

“Also, speaking to my mum back home, she learned about it all when she was growing up and she loves that ancestry stuff, but she has never got to come over here so once Covid finishes up hopefully she will get that chance.”