The back-rower talks early starts, Australian foods and his spirit animal

Downtime with… Glasgow No 8 Jack Dempsey

How have you settled in Glasgow? 

Really well. In terms of off-the-field stuff, it’s been really great. It’s a massive change, going from living five minutes from the beach in Sydney to Glasgow, but I got here during the summer so I could ease my way in and it wasn’t as dark as it is now.

I’m really enjoying it. Where I am in the West End is a nice area with coffee shops and bars; it’s a social area and there are a lot of places nearby.

What do you miss the most about Australia? 

Apart from family and friends and the weather, which are all a given, just finishing training, driving down to the beach and getting in the drink, which is what we call the ocean. Going there for a couple of hours and relaxing, I probably took it for granted because I’d grown up with it my whole life.

Any Australian foods you can’t get in Scotland? 

I received a care package from my family before Christmas. They sent over my presents – my mum made me send her a photo every week to prove I hadn’t opened any before Christmas! – and they sent me some Milo, which is the Australian equivalent of Nesquik, and the other thing were these crackers called Shapes. The UK doesn’t have an equivalent, it’s either crisps or biscuits or crackers, not Shapes. You’ll have to Google them.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on the pitch? 

At the World Cup in Japan, we were playing Uruguay in Oita and a streaker ran across the pitch. He ran straight up to Kurtley Beale and Kurtley looked scared, like he’d seen a ghost!

I didn’t notice at the time but when I saw the photos I realised the streaker was actually someone who was two years below me at high school.

Kurtley is always good for a reaction. If you scare him in the hallway, he always has a funny reaction.

Who are the jokers in the Glasgow squad? 

Lewis Bean has got northern England humour. Ryan Wilson is well known as a funny guy. George Horne is a cheeky little guy, Duncan Weir too. They would be my top four.

Any practical jokes you can tell us? 

Back at my old club, the Waratahs, we’d fill up the cars of new academy lads or signings with popcorn. That was stolen from the NBA.

Do you have any phobias?

I’m terrified of any stinging insects, bees and wasps. Growing up in Australia I’m fine with full-on stuff (snakes etc), but if we’re sitting outside and a bee comes over I’ll head for the hills.

What annoys you? 

A million things! The top one is any time before 10am. Lewis Bean picks me up in the morning and I usually sleep past my alarm, so he’s normally waiting for me out the front.

The management team here say, “Don’t talk to Demo before 11am”! I’ll just grunt at you. I’ll do everything (in training) but won’t be laughing or talking, even if I’ve had five coffees.

Also loud chewers and people who drive with their high beams on.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with? 

It would have to be Will Ferrell or Jack Black. It needs to be someone funny and they’re the funniest people to me.

If you could be one team-mate, who would it be? 

Ross Thompson, the young ten here – and I’d want it to be forever! He’s the best-looking bloke I’ve ever seen and I’d want to be that good-looking.

The silliest thing you’ve bought?

I once bought a Borat mankini. It was silly but on purpose – fancy dress for Mad Monday. I also bought a Mustang. When I look back that was silly as it’s sitting at home rusting.

If your house was on fire, what three things would you save? 

My Xbox, my Pittsburgh Steelers jersey – I’m an NFL fan – and my flamingo lamp. It’s a table lamp that’s neon pink and a flamingo. I brought it over from Sydney and sleep with it on. It’s my spirit animal.

My old flat had a lot of flamingo-themed things – bed covers, other things here and there. It started when I bought a short-sleeved collared shirt that had flamingoes on it and I went really well in it socially.

Your Mastermind specialist subject? 

It would be one of two things – Pokémon, I played that a lot when I was a kid, or Pittsburgh Steelers history.

Any surprising hidden talents? 

I’m not too bad at freestyle rapping.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby? 

I’d like to finish my degree – I’ve very slowly been doing a diploma in Business. And I’d like to own my house in Sydney.

This article originally appeared in Rugby World’s February 2022 edition.

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