Leinster Rugby head coach Leo Cullen and club captain Johnny Sexton have given their reaction to scrum-half Nick McCarthy’s decision to publicly come out as gay.

Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie, Cullen shared his admiration for McCarthy and offered his and the club’s full support to the 27-year-old after his decision to speak publicly about his sexuality for the first time.

“Nick told us a while ago and the main thing when I talked to him first, was that it was great that he was able to talk openly to us.

“Nick is a brilliant individual and we are supportive of him. That’s the most important bit for me. We want to make sure that all our guys are able to maximise their ability and be able to bring all of themselves to Leinster Rugby while they are here.

“To be at your best you need to make sure you are working hard but also it’s about being yourself and it’s important you’re not battling against being yourself. So doing what’s in your heart, I guess, so we are pleased that Nick has been able to come out with this news so he can start being more comfortable just being himself.”

Cullen also spoke about his belief that McCarthy can now offer hope and that he can be a role model to others.

“Nick has definitely had a battle going on in the back of his mind, and I’m sure there are other young people going through something similar.

“He will be an amazing role model to people because he’s a great person in the group. He’s very popular in the squad.

“We just want what’s best for Nick but he’s going to be an amazing role model, we hope, to lots of young people out there.”

Ahead of his departure for New Zealand with Ireland, Leinster Rugby club captain Johnny Sexton also offered his full support to his teammate.

“I’ve known Nick since his time in the Academy so to hear him talk to us so openly about his struggles has been tough but we are now just delighted for Nick and that he can be himself.

“We talk about looking after our brothers a lot in here and the last few months has been about that, looking out for Nick. And that will continue.

“By speaking openly about his sexuality, Nick will be a role model for others and we couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Belong To and Leinster Rugby 

For the month of June, Leinster Rugby are working with Belong To as our charity partner.

Belong To is the national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) young people in Ireland.

You can contact Belong To at www.belongto.org

Finding Help? 

Belong To provide support and information for LGBTI+ young people through a number of support services:

Visit a Youth Group: Belong To support youth groups around the country where you can be yourself, meet new people and seek help. Click HERE for a list of support youth groups near you.

Give Belong To a Call: 01 670 6223 (we are open Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)

Send Belong To an Email: info@belongto.org

If you need urgent support, you can contact any one of the support services below. Many of them are open 24 hours a day. You are not alone.

24/7 Anonymous Text Support

If you need support about any type of crisis, you can chat in confidence, 24/7 with a trained crisis volunteer over text. Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you and help you move towards feeling better. Here’s how the support service works:

  1. Text LGBTI+ to 086 1800 280 anytime when you need support. Standard SMS rates may apply.
  2. A trained volunteer will listen to you and help you think more clearly, enabling you to know that you can take the next step to feel better.

The National LGBT Helpline

The National LGBT Helpline provides a confidential, listening, support and information service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The service is also used by people who are questioning if they might be LGBT, as well as the family and friends of LGBT people and professionals looking for information. The service is volunteer-run and operates Monday to Friday from 7pm to 9pm.

Visit Website: www.lgbt.ie Call: 1890 929 539

Pieta House

Pieta House offers free specialised treatment to clients who self-harm, suffer from suicidal ideation or have made multiple suicide attempts. Clients receive an intensive programme of one-to-one counselling lasting about four to six weeks. They have branches across Ireland in Ballyfermot, Finglas, Lucan, Limerick, Tallaght, Kerry, Tipperary and Galway.

Visit Website: www.pieta.ie Call: 1800 247 247

Samaritans

Samaritans provides confidential non-judgmental support, 24 hours a day for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.

Visit Website: www.samaritans.org Call: 116 123

Your Mental Health 

Your Mental Health is a place to learn about mental health and how to support yourself and others. Find resources and support services near you

Visit Website: www.yourmentalhealth.ie

Jigsaw

Jigsaw offer a free service providing support and advice to young people (aged 12-25) experiencing mental health difficulties.

Visit Website: www.jigsaw.ie/help

Transgender Equality Network Ireland

Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) seeks to improve conditions and advance the rights and equality of trans people and their families. Their vision is an Ireland where trans people are understood, accepted and respected, and can participate fully in all aspects of Irish society.

Visit Website: www.teni.ie Call: 01 873 35 75

Gay Switchboard Ireland 

Gay Switchboard Ireland provides a confidential telephone support service. Listening, support, and information are provided to all callers in a non- directive or judgmental way. The service is available to the LGBT community, their parents, families and friends, and to anyone who has concerns relating to sexuality, including HIV/AIDS related enquiries.

Visit Website: www.gayswitchboard.ie Call: 01 872 1055