Toby Rudolf reflects on 'humbling' support received for opening up about sexuality amid Manly jersey saga
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Cronulla Sharks star Toby Rudolf was a shining light amid a controversial period for the NRL when a crop of Manly stars boycotted the club’s pride jersey.
Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula and Toafofoa Sipley refused to don the pride-supporting jersey leading to an uproar among the rugby league community.
However, it led to Rudolf shining a positive light on love and his own sexuality.
He revealed how his own sexuality was very fluid and that he’d been out kissing many straight women as well as gay guys and girls.
It was an incredibly open opinion on love coming from a rugby league player, in a time when such a voice was needed in that community.
Although for Rudolf, it was just him being himself.
In an interview on the SPORTbible Daily Podcast, Toby revealed: “I didn’t think I was reinventing the wheel by any means with what I was saying.
“It was just who I am and what I’m about. I was just asked the right question and I answered.”
It led to an outpour of support from many who were surprised to hear an NRL star speak so openly about their own sexuality.
The impact the Cronulla player’s comments had on others made him realise the responsibility he had as a role model.
Rudolf continued: “I went to Northies that night and got stopped by so many people saying stuff like ‘I really appreciate that stuff that you said’ whether they were gay, straight or whatever.
“After the comments were said I was definitely made more aware [of his role] just from the outpouring of comments and messages.
“I didn’t really realise the power I held on my behalf, it was just a voice coming from such a different place than people we are used to.”
It’s a true account of the type of person that Toby Rudolf is, unapologetically himself without the need for validation.
He added: “I just wanted to get a voice out there that I supported that community, not that they needed it, but they might’ve needed it at that time during the Manly saga. And I was happy to provide it.
“It was a bit humbling to realise the power I had in my voice and I was happy I used it in a positive way.”
The 27-year-old’s appearance on the SPORTbible Daily Podcast comes as Sydney is celebrating WorldPride.
It’s an occasion that Rudolf is desperate to be involved with.
He said: “I have been searching for [a float] and asking the Sharks guys if they know anyone who has one.
“My mum’s best friend reached out to me yesterday and told me there’s a gay rugby float called ‘The Convicts’, so I’m going to give them a follow and try my best to apply.
“I am trying my best and determined to get on a float and dance my ass off all night long.”
As for what he plans to wear to commemorate the outpouring of love, he says: “I’ll probably just go nude. I feel like the less you wear the less you have to lose.”
So if you see a fun-loving, built rugby league forward shaking his stuff through the streets of Sydney, you’ll know exactly who it is.