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New Zealand rugby player Campbell Johnstone has made history as the first All Blacks player to come out as gay.

The 43-year-old told TVNZ’s Seven Sharp that he was hoping to “take away the pressure” from coming out in the team.

“Then the public will know that there is one in among the All Blacks and it could be one of the final pieces of the puzzle sports-wise that gives everyone closure,” he further explained.

Johnstone first joined All Black in 2005 when he played three test matches, having since spent a season with the Ospreys and played 38 Super Rugby matches for Christchurch’s Crusader.

“My view of an All Black was many, strong, possibly with a wife and kids,” he added.

“I pushed that side of me down deeper and deeper.

“I may have had a bad game and blamed that side of me, you know, and it slowly starts to affect you. It’s hard living a double life.”

However, since Johnstone came to terms with his sexuality, he has found the strength to share his true identity with those around him.

“I did that a long time ago,” he stated. “It was pretty much like telling them I just ran out of milk, one of them was like, ‘yeah it’s about time.’”

New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson praised the star for coming out publicly. 

“On behalf of the New Zealand rugby community and as a former teammate, I want to acknowledge and support Campbell for sharing his authentic story,” he wrote in a statement.

“We want to be clear, no matter who you love, rugby has your back.”