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Former New Zealand rugby player Campbell Johnstone becomes first All Black to come out as gay

<i>Sandra Mu/Getty Images</i><br/>Johnstone is the first All Black to come out publicly as gay.
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Sandra Mu/Getty Images
Johnstone is the first All Black to come out publicly as gay.

By Sammy Mngqosini, CNN

Former New Zealand rugby player Campbell Johnstone became the first All Black to come out publicly as gay, in an interview with TVNZ’s Seven Sharp on Monday.

Johnstone — who played three Test matches for New Zealand, including two against the British and Irish Lions in 2005 — said he told his friends and family “a long time ago” before making the announcement on the show.

“If I can be the first All Black that comes out as gay and take away the pressure and stigma surrounding the issue it can actually help other people,” Johnstone said.

“Then the public will know that there is one in amongst the All Blacks … and it could be one of the final pieces in the puzzle sports-wise that gives everyone closure,” the former Canterbury and Crusaders player added.

Responding to the announcement, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson praised his former teammate, saying Johnstone’s “strength and visibility will pave the way for others in our game,” in a statement released on Twitter on Monday.

“Rugby is a sport that is welcoming to everyone and a place where people should feel safe to be who they are. We know that there are people who have not always been comfortable to be who they are in rugby. We want to be clear, no matter who you love, rugby has your back,” Robinson added.

The 43-year-old Johnstone said he was ready for the spotlight that would be cast upon him, adding: “I am very much happy and very comfortable about myself, so I am very happy about that.”

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