Jonny Sexton vows Leinster players will look out for “brother” Nick McCarthy

Leinster captain Jonny Sexton has vowed the squad will ‘look out’ for Nick McCarthy after the scrum half publicly came out as gay.

McCarthy, 27, revealed the news in an interview on Leinster’s website, admitting he nearly quit the sport before deciding to confide in coaches Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster last November. He then told fellow players in January, saying he was “pretty nervous” before doing so.

But prior to leaving Dublin for Ireland’s summer tour of New Zealand, Sexton told reporters the team would “look out” for McCarthy. He also praised the American-born player, in his second stint with the province, for being brave enough to come out.

“I’ve known Nick since his time in the academy so to hear him talk to us so openly about his struggles has been tough,” he said. “But we are now just delighted for Nick and that he can be himself.

“We talk about looking after our brothers a lot in here and the last few months has been about that, looking out for Nick. And that will continue.”

Sexton, 36, also said he feels McCarthy’s honesty will inspire others in a similar position: “By speaking openly about his sexuality, Nick will be a role model for others and we couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Nick McCarthy told teammates in January he was gay
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Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

McCarthy, 27, has also played for Munster in between his spells with The Blues. He was an integral part of Leinster’s 2017-18 league and European Cup double winning side, and helped them retain the Pro 14 title the following season.

But the former Ireland under 18s and 20s player admitted to “agonising” over his place in the sport in recent years, before taking the decision to speak to Cullen and Lancaster. And their reaction helped convince him to continue playing.

“I needed to accept being gay myself before I could address it with others,” he said. “I have great friends in rugby but I didn’t know how they would take it. My experience since coming out though has been entirely positive. I have realised that anyone who cares about you, just wants you to be happy.”

Coach Cullen, meanwhile, said it was important that the former Dublin College graduate could be himself: “The main thing when I talked to him first, was that it was great that he was able to talk openly to us,” said the former Ireland second row.

“Nick is a brilliant individual and we are supportive of him. That’s the most important bit for me. We want to make sure that all our guys are able to maximise their ability and be able to bring all of themselves to Leinster Rugby while they are here.

“To be at your best you need to make sure you are working hard but also it’s about being yourself and it’s important you’re not battling against being yourself.”

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