Rugby: All Blacks stars react to former test prop Campbell Johnstone coming out as gay

Campbell Johnstone playing for the Crusaders.
Campbell Johnstone playing for the Crusaders. Photo credit: Photosport

New Zealand rugby stars have lauded former test prop Campbell Johnstone for becoming the first openly gay All Black.

In a milestone moment for NZ rugby, Johnston has revealed his sexuality to the public, after many years of feeling burdened by stereotypes during his playing days.

The 43-year-old was capped three times by the All Blacks, including a test against the 2005 British & Irish Lions.

He also made 73 appearances for Canterbury in the National Provincial Championship, as well as 72 for the Crusaders, where he won three Super Rugby titles.

Despite all the joy on the field, Johnstone has revealed his struggles away from it.

"Within myself, I was never comfortable with the whole concept and my dream was to be an All Black," he told TVNZ. "My view of an All Black was manly, strong, possibly with a wife and kids.

"It slowly starts to affect you, and it’s hard living a double life or living a lie.

"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.

"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 sportswise that gives everyone closure."

All Blacks Aaron Smith and Brad Weber have praised Johnstone for his bravery, and hailed the trailblazing prop as an inspiration.

Sports Minister Grant Robertson, who is also openly gay, and Australian rugby star Sharni Williams have also thanked Johnstone for sharing his story.