Wallabies' Kellaway backs new Scot Dempsey

Wed, Oct 26, 2022, 2:01 AM
Melissa Woods - AAP
by Melissa Woods - AAP
It was a tense battle at Murrayfield in Edinburgh

Having started their rugby careers together in the under-10s, Wallabies winger Andrew Kellaway admits it will be strange to line up against new Scotland recruit Jack Dempsey.

Capped 14 times for Australia, backrower Dempsey is in line to make his debut for Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday (3.30am Sunday AEDT) thanks to World Rugby's new eligibility rules about representing a second country.

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Dempsey, who has a Scottish grandfather, has not played for Australia for more than three years so has served the necessary stand-down period and can transfer national allegiance because of a 'close and credible link via birthright' to his second country.

The ex-Waratah has impressed at No.8 since joining the Glasgow Warriors last year, earning his first Scotland squad selection.

Kellaway said he and 28-year-old Dempsey went way back and he was supportive of the switch in allegiance.

"Absolutely - Jack and I started at the Waratahs together, and before that we were playing for Gordon in the under-10s together," Kellaway said when asked if it would be "weird" facing his old mate.

"So short answer, yes. Long answer, look, I'm really happy on a personal note for Jack, a close friend of mine who is a fantastic footballer. 

"Whilst I'd love to be sharing a Wallaby jersey with Jack, on a slightly more selfless note I'm really, really happy for him that he's found where he's happy and where he's performing, and he's been given an opportunity based on that."

Andrew Kellaway and Jack Dempsey during their time with the NSW Waratahs in 2016. Photo: Getty Images
Andrew Kellaway and Jack Dempsey during their time with the NSW Waratahs in 2016. Photo: Getty Images

Kellaway played at fullback in Australia's 15-13 loss to Scotland on last year's winless spring tour, although with first-choice custodian Tom Banks overcoming injury and Marika Koroibete back in Japan, he is a certain starter on the wing.

He recalled the Scots played with more intent defensively than their opponents, and said this time the Wallabies needed to begin their five-Test tour with a bang.

"Last year was a tough hit-out for us - defensively, Scotland fronted up more than we did," the 27-year-old said.

"The challenge this year, first game off the plane, is to be able to start, or hit the ground running for want of a better term. 

"It's a long tour, with five games, but the important part of all of that is to treat each game on its own merits and disregard what's to come, because if we start worrying about down the track, then we're probably not putting ourselves in the best spot to perform."

The Wallabies are using the tour as a World Cup rehearsal, basing themselves in Saint Etienne in east-central France and flying out two days before each Test.

They are staying at the same hotel they will use during next year's  tournament, giving players a taste of what lies ahead if they make the squad. 

Kellaway said it made the tournament, and what was at stake, more real.

"It's great for us as a group just to get your routines unpacked," he said.

"You know what to expect if you're in the squad next year but I guess that's the main point. You need to try and work towards being in that squad you know. 

"It's nice coming here and seeing the facilities that they've provided for us but if you don't do your job, you're not going to be here to enjoy them." 

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