Written by John Davidson
Photo by Photo Sky Sports
Super League’s only openly gay player Keegan Hirst has taken aim at disgraced Australian rugby star Israel Folau for his rant against homosexuality.
Folau was sacked by Australian Rugby for a controversial Instagram post where he attacked homosexuals and other groups. The Australian is contesting his sacking in a legal battle.
Wakefield Trinity prop Hirst came out in 2015 and is still the only openly homosexual rugby player in either hemisphere.
The front-rower said: “The Australian Rugby union have done the right thing, absolutely. He was warned.
“When you’re in a position of influence, you are a role model, whether you want to be or not, and he’s not oblivious to that. I think Thumper in Bambi said it best, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.
“He didn’t need to go on and it’s a difficult one when it comes to religion because how important religion is to people. But it doesn’t give you a right to put down a whole selection of society.
“What’s happened with Israel Folau is the right thing. And him trying to get a GoFund me page to pay for his legal fees when he makes millions of dollars is just indicative of the bloke.
“There’s proof in the pudding.”
Hirst was talking as part of Super League’s ‘Wellbeing Round’, which is dedicated to men’s mental health.
The Wakefield star blazed a trial for gay athletes in rugby when he decided to come out four years ago.
No other player has followed his lead since, and the 31-year-old admits he understands why.
“It’s a difficult one. It’s such an individual thing and you have to accept who you are, be OK with it and want to share it with the world,” Hirst said.
“There might be rugby league players who are gay and don’t want to [come out]. They might see me papping on about it all the time and think I don’t want to have to do that, which is understandable.
“It’s important to me that people can see that you can be that person you want to be. But they don’t want to do what I do, they’d have their own story.
“I’d like to say if you’re gay, come out and everything will be fine, but somebody has to get there on their own.
“But as we’ve seen in the last four years this game that we love is really accepting and inclusive.”