Rugby-Savea praises Johnstone's 'courageous' decision to come out as gay

FILE PHOTO: Crusaders' Campbell Johnstone gets hit in a high tackle from Cheetahs' Jannie du Plessis (top) during their Super 14 rugby clash in Christchurch April 15, 2006. REUTERS/Simon Baker/

(Reuters) - Ardie Savea said former New Zealand prop Campbell Johnstone was "pretty courageous" for deciding to publicly come out as the first gay All Black.

Johnstone, who played three tests in 2005, said on a television programme on Monday he had been "living a lie" and leading "a double life" before acknowledging his sexuality.

"It takes a lot of courage, especially in the rugby circles and how it's been in the past; the old traditional hard-man. But seeing someone come out, it's pretty courageous," All Blacks loose forward Savea said on Wednesday.

"I know the doubts that would've been in his head, but he probably doesn't realise how many people he's helped internally with what he's done, so big ups to him."

Savea said the All Blacks were "pretty open".

"We're all about togetherness, regardless of if you're Samoan or Pacific, if you're gay or if you're straight, you're accepted and loved."

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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