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Campbell Johnstone: New Zealand player first to come out as gay

Campbell Johnstone played three Tests for New Zealand including two against the British and Irish Lions in 2005; 43-year-old also played for Ospreys, Biarritz and Crusaders

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Campbell Johnstone, a former New Zealand rugby union player, has come out as gay and becomes the first ever All Black to do so. Credit: TVNZ.

Campbell Johnstone, a prop who played three Tests, including two against the British and Irish Lions in 2005, has become the first All Blacks rugby player to come out as gay.

Johnstone made the announcement on Monday during a current affairs TV program in New Zealand, saying he had been "living a lie" and leading a "double life".

"If I open up that door and magically make that closet disappear, then we're going to help a lot of people," he said.

"I pushed that side of me down deeper and deeper. I went to some interesting places."

Johnstone, who played 38 Super Rugby matches for the Christchurch-based Crusaders, also spent a season with Ospreys and made more than 100 appearances for Top 14 club Biarritz.

New Zealand Rugby quickly supported Johnstone's decision to come out as gay, praising him for "having the courage to share his story and helping create a more inclusive game."

Chief executive Mark Robinson said Johnstone's "strength and visibility will pave the way for others."

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"Rugby is a sport that is welcoming to everyone and a place where people should feel safe to be who they are. We want to be clear, no matter who you love, rugby has your back," he said in a statement.

New Zealand Sports Minister and former deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who is gay, said Johnstone's announcement was a "big moment" and thanked him for "blazing this trail."

"Now with the All Blacks, another barrier has been broken. I hope it inspires future generations to be open, happy and comfortable. There is still a long way to go, but this feels a very significant step," he said on Instagram.

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