The Crusaders were pleased to welcome Campbell Johnstone back to Rugby Park on Monday.
He shared his journey with the playing group, which included coming out publicly as being gay.
“It was awesome going back to the Crusaders talking about my journey. I’m really happy to take this step,” Johnstone said.
“I’m hoping to help open the door to anyone struggling in this space.”
Johnstone played as a prop for the Crusaders and Canterbury between 2002 and 2008, achieving selection for the All Blacks in 2005.
Colin Mansbridge, Crusaders CEO, said it was “really great Campbell felt comfortable to come back here and share his journey with the team”.
“We’re pleased to give him our full support and we absolutely have his back,” Mansbridge said.
“We are a values driven club, it’s what makes this such a special place. A core pillar of who we are is connection and being ‘for each other’, and the values that were so strong in Campbell’s playing days are still as strong as ever here today.
“Regardless of lifestyle, belief or sexual orientation, we hope that any member of our Crusaders whanau – past and present – feels comfortable and welcome to be their complete selves.”