Ex-Wakefield Trinity man and first openly gay rugby league player, Keegan Hirst, comes out of retirement for West Yorkshire club

Ex-Wakefield Trinity prop and the first openly gay rugby league player, Keegan Hirst, has come out of retirement at the age of 34.

Sky Sports ran the story this morning with Hirst set to play for the Batley Bulldogs for the rest of 2022.

The 34-year-old’s return comes on the back of recent events involving the infamous ‘Manly seven’ who boycotted the Sea Eagles’ fixture against the Sydney Roosters due to pride colours being shown on the famous maroon jersey.

Those seven were: Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula and Toafofoa Sipley who all refused to play with reference to their ‘cultural and religious beliefs’.

The storm that ushered in following that move is still raging now with NRL bosses keen to bring in a ‘pride round’ for 2023.

Hirst said: “Covid added to my own personal circumstances which made me lose touch with some of the things that I hold dearest to me; friends and rugby league.

“After the recent thinly-veiled homophobia over a rainbow shirt, I thought how can I help with visibility and inclusion? By lacing up my boots, putting on a playing shirt and getting back out there.

“That’s how I help with visibility and inclusion. I still have plenty of games in me and I’m looking forward to helping Batley continue their incredible season.”

In 2015, Hirst became the first British professional rugby league player to come out as gay after beginning his career with Hunslet back in 2008.

Spells at Batley – where he will now return for a third time – Dewsbury Rams and the Featherstone Rovers in the second tier saw Hirst become one of the most impressive forwards in the Championship, earning himself a move to Super League outfit Wakefield Trinity.

He made his Super League debut with Wakefield in 2017 where he stayed for three years before returning to the Championship.

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