New Zealand TV presenter: I haven’t urged for a gay rugby player to come out

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A gay sports presenter in New Zealand has denied calling for a gay All Blacks rugby player to openly declare his sexuality.

In an interview published at the weekend, the country’s Sunday Star-Times reported broadcaster Steve Gray as saying that he was aware there had been several gay All Blacks and had also slept with a former player.

However, writing on his blog, Gray said he had been misquoted by the paper.

“I did not claim there have been several gay All Blacks over the years. I stated I slept, well not much sleeping, in the 1990′s with a AB who had played in the 1970′s.”

Gray continued: “I said over the years there have been rumours about many All Blacks, none of which I knew to be true. I said many gay men have said they have slept with AB’s. As I had not witnessed this sex, I could not confirm if these acts had occurred.”

In his blog post Gray stopped short of encouraging All Blacks to come out.

“The rugby culture in this country is such,” said Gray. “It would maybe not be a place a gay man would want to be…

“We live in a country where the prime minister equated being gay with being weird. Hardly leading from the top.

“I said it is not up to a rugby player to lead and show our country is a place that is proud of gay people when gay is still accepted as a put down.”

Commenting on the lack of openly gay rugby players, former All Blacks player Craig Innes said:

“It would obviously take a very brave person to do it, but if you look at Ian Roberts, who is probably the toughest, meanest Rugby League player to ever play the game, he came out a few years ago and people hardly batted an eyelid.”

Roberts, an Australian Rugby League international, came out in 1995.

Gareth Thomas, who is currently taking part in ITV’s Dancing on Ice, remains the UK’s highest-profile openly gay rugby star.

The former Wales international retired in October 2011.