JACK DEMPSEY has admitted that he is considering the possibility of becoming a Scotland international but won’t rush into a decision.
The Glasgow Warriors back-rower has 14 caps for his native Australia but could switch allegiances from October under changes in World Rugby’s international player eligibility rules that came into force at the start of this year.
Players who have already been capped at senior level can now switch to a new country once they have completed a three-year cooling off period in which they have not been selected for international duty and also possess “a close and credible link via birthright” to their new country.
Dempsey qualifies on both fronts having last pulled on a Wallabies shirt in October 2019 at the Rugby World Cup and through his Scottish grandfather, Andrew Prentice.
Dempsey’s mum, Rose, who is half-Scottish, is especially keen to see her son throw his lot in with Gregor Townsend’s squad, while the 27 year-old revealed he had also sought the counsel of Warriors team-mates Sam Johnson and Sione Tuipulotu who were both born in Australia but now play for Scotland.
The player was coy on whether he had spoken directly to Townsend or not about it all but did admit that discussions had taken place with other relevant figures “behind the scenes” about a possible switch.
In an interview with the Australian website Code Sport, Dempsey revealed that he would use the summer break to mull over all his options, given that he would be closing the door on any future Australia appearances should he make the switch to Scotland.
He said: “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’m very close to guys like Sam, Sione and Cole [Forbes] who have all come out for Scotland. Sione came over 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.
“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.
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“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.
“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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