Former Wallaby Dan Palmer has come out as gay in a lengthy self-written column in which he admits his own death felt "preferable" to anybody discovering his sexuality.
The 32-year-old, who played a test in the front row for Australia in 2012, joins former Wales winger Gareth Thomas as the only two rugby union internationals to say they are gay.
The highest-profile gay player in rugby league in Australia was Ian Roberts, who came out as gay in 1995 while he was still playing in the National Rugby League but after he had played his last of 13 tests for Australia. Rugby referee Nigel Owens came out in 2007 during his high-profile international career.
In the column, Palmer describes his "incredibly frustrated, angry, and desperately sad" state, despite a year in 2012 where he was living out his childhood dream.
He said that although he thought he had "made it," he "fantasised about disappearing," changing his name and starting his life all over again.
"In fact, at this point, I feel like I am describing the life of a completely separate person; albeit someone that shaped who I am today, for better or worse. I don't think describing my experiences in this way is something I am obliged to do, but rather, I feel like it is something I should do, on the off chance it will help someone who finds themselves in a similar position," he said.
After sustaining a series of injuries in 2013, Palmer signed a rugby contract with FC Grenoble in the French Top 14 competition. That's when he said his life hit rock bottom.
"After overdosing on painkillers and waking up in a pool of the previous day's food, it was clear to me that I was rapidly self-destructing and that something had to change," the former prop wrote.
A painful conversation with a friend in London followed, but "he was the first person I told that I was gay in my 25 years on the planet. Telling him removed a weight I had been carrying for as long as I could remember."
Meanwhile, Wallabies captain Michael Hooper responded to the news yesterday while speaking to media ahead of the third Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney.
Hooper said he believes Palmer's column could spark a positive change.
"I feel really happy for Dan, he's a great bloke, he's a great Wallaby, great rugby player and now coach so wishing him all the best, it was a very powerful column," Hooper said.
"I guess that's why someone like Dan is putting that out there, his words speak loud."
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