Leinster’s Nick McCarthy has bravely ‘come out’ publicly as gay but admitted that he considered quitting rugby before making the announcement.
The England prop Joe Mahler urged rugby last month to work harder to create an environment which made it easier for players to reveal their sexuality. “There is no way everyone in professional elite rugby is heterosexual. No way,” Marler told Mirror Sport. “The issue is, ‘why don’t they feel comfortable?’
“I hope we’re moving in the right direction and I hope to see someone that is currently playing set that example.”
McCarthy, 27, spoke publicly about his sexuality for the first time on Monday, admitting he had contemplated retiring first. The scrum-half said: “It’s not common for a male athlete to come out in sport, never mind professional rugby, and it’s probably something that I didn’t want to believe or accept myself either.
“It affected me so much that I agonised over my future and contemplated walking away from rugby altogether because I just didn’t think I could come out while playing rugby.
“I needed to accept being gay myself before I could address it with others. 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.
“I spoke to [Leinster coaches] Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster last November and the support that I got from them straight away was unbelievable They helped and guided me over the months that followed so that I felt more comfortable to come out to the group.”
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McCarthy said he had been encouraged to go public by the example set by Exeter-bound team mate Jack Dunne, who previously came out as bisexual.
Leinster captain Johnny Sexton said: “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.
“By speaking openly about his sexuality, Nick will be a role model for others. We couldn’t be prouder of him.”