Jack Dempsey has promised to repay Scottish rugby for helping resurrect a rugby career he feared was petering out before he decided to head north to join Glasgow Warriors from the Waratahs in his native Australia during the summer of 2021.

The 28-year-old No8, who was capped 14 times by Australia between June 2017 and October 2019, became the first player to switch between two tier one nations through World Rugby’s recently altered eligibility laws when he came off the bench for Scotland on Saturday – and as luck would have it, his debut in dark blue was against the nation where he was born, raised and initially made his name as a player.

Dempsey acknowledged that it was a strange feeling to line-up against some of his oldest and best friends but insists that the whole experience reinforced his conviction that throwing his lot in with Scotland was the best rugby decision he has ever made.

“It’s good for the plot, that one – to play against your old team,” he reasoned. “If we had got that kick at the end, it would have been the cherry on top. But I was just happy to get out there, get my first cap, and be welcomed by all the boys into the family.

“There was always the possibility of this happening and I’d play against Australia, so I kind of readied myself, but when the moment came, it was very strange.

“At one moment, on the other side of the scrum, was Michael Hooper, who I’d played every pro game with before I moved over here. I’m very close with a lot of those boys so they know my story and my journey, and it’s all love there. To win my first Scotland cap against them is something I’ll never forget.”

Dempsey thought long and hard about whether to make himself available for Scotland – who he qualifies to represent through his Glaswegian grandfather after completed the mandatory three-year stand-down period since his last Australia cap – before ultimately reaching the conclusion that it was the right thing personally and for his adopted country.

“I wouldn’t have made this decision if I didn’t think I was up to it in terms of not only playing at this level but making a statement,” he said. “The way that Scotland play, I feel like it suits me well. Whether my role is to come off the bench and add impact, or add experience, I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve only been in camp for about a week. I’ve only heard Gregor speaking in training for a week, but 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.”

“I’m not going to lie, I came over here thinking my Test career was probably over,” he added. “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.

“I’ve loved every moment of it and after I was presented with my cap [on Saturday evening], I said to the lads that I came over here in a bit of a weird place in my career. I wasn’t loving my rugby as much as maybe I used to, and this has re-lit that fire under me again over the past 14 months or so.

“I’m just thankful that I made this move. Not only to Glasgow, but to Scotland. I said to the boys that I hope I can repay this faith over the next few weeks, months or years – whatever it may be. That’s where I’m at. I’m happy with the decision I made.”

While Dempsey is clearly content in his new surroundings and committed to the route he has taken, he does admit to feeling a bit like fish out of water at times.

“I grew up on the North Shore of Sydney, so very much spent a lot of my childhood on the coast,” he explained. “I’m not at Michael Hooper level of surfer but somewhere in the middle there, and that’s maybe the biggest thing I’ve found since moving to Glasgow.

‘Going to Loch Lomond in the middle of winter isn’t quite Manly Beach, but I’ve found some other things about the culture and lifestyle in Scotland I enjoy.”