Jack Dempsey: Better people, better person

Thu, 10/06/2021, 12:00 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Highlanders extend Waratahs losing streak with record win at home in Dunedin

By his own admission, Jack Dempsey isn’t going to win any good bloke awards. However, he’d like the think the past 12 months has changed how he looks at the game and himself.

Dempsey will pull on the sky blue jersey for the last time on Saturday when the Waratahs face the Chiefs at Brookvale Oval.

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The 27-year-old is off to Glasgow at the end of the month after six years playing for his home state.

His last year at the club has been anything from ideal.

Injuries and a winless season would leave many disillusioned by the situation as he all of a sudden became a 'stalwart' of the club according to James Ramm due to the rapid player turnover.

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However, this process and experience is something that's changed Dempsey for the better, no longer the lone wolf out to service himself but the leader of hungry pups taking their first step into the Super Rugby wilderness.

“Looking at my own journey, this year in particular was a transition period in regards to who I am as a player going forward,” he told reporters.

“I’m no longer that young, lone wolf player who can be his own man and do his own thing.

“It’s been a massive learning curve in terms of teaching young blokes, showing them the way and with that, came my own faults so I learnt how to do things better than other ways.

“This current group means a little bit different going forward. I hope they have long lasting careers and I’ll have a little fingerprint in it as one of the guys who had a positive influence on them.”

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As he heads for Europe, Dempsey refused to rule out pulling on the gold jersey as he attempts to further grow playing Northern Hemisphere rugby.

“I’ve been lucky enough at the start of my career to ply my trade here for my home state and then get called up for Australia and get that opportunity whereas guys have had to leave or left the country early and then filter back," he admits.

“It’s time for me to go through that and experience another culture, a different style of football but at the same time grow as a player.

"A big reason why I’ve chosen to go there is work on my set-piece game and tight stuff. We know how loose, athletic and fast the game is here and NZ and I’ve been lucky enough to learn and ply my trade here.”


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It was clear to see what Dempsey means to the club, with injured captain Jake Gordon leading a video presentation for him and the rest of the departing players.

He concedes that whilst it will be a 'bittersweet' moment when that final whistle goes, the constant turnover and his subsequent departure all part of professional sport.

“It’s a bit of everything. Obviously, the cliché would be it’s a bittersweet moment but I’ve known from the start of the season this was coming so I’ve had that emotional build up as the season has gone on," Dempsey added

“I’ve just had a nice presentation from the lads in a meeting and I think at this point I want to go out on a high. I want to go out on a win, have a good individual performance and then celebrate with some of the lads afterwards.

“They (the group) put on a little video presentation for the departing guys and then Jake got up and said some words about us.

“It’s all part of Rugby moving on, there’s always a bit of turnover so to get that acknowledgement is good being here for a while.”

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