Leinster scrum-half Nick McCarthy has come out as gay, revealing he almost walked away from the sport before making his decision.
The 27-year-old came out to his teammates in January, having opened up to Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster last November.
McCarthy was also inspired by his Leinster teammate Jack Dunne, who spoke publicly about his bisexuality last year.
The former Ireland U20 international opened up on his decision to publicly address his sexuality in an interview with Leinster head of communications Marcus Ó Buachalla on Leinsterrugby.ie.
“I came out to my teammates in January and I was obviously pretty nervous about doing so, but I’m really happy that I did it,” McCarthy said.
“I struggled with coming out for a while and it was starting to impact on me and my happiness so it was the right decision.
"But, I spoke to 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."
McCarthy, who returned to Leinster last summer after spending two years with Munster, says he had to come to terms with his sexuality before discussing it with others.
He also described the experience as being very positive, thanking his family, friends and teammates for their loving responses.
“I’d love people to see, from my experience, that coming out has been really positive, and the biggest hurdle may be in your own head," he added.
“Surround yourself with good people, because anyone that cares for you, wants the best for you. Your sexuality is just a part of who you are, and life is so much better when you can be yourself.”