Toby Rudolf has opened up on his sexuality, and the reasons why he's one of the NRL's biggest advocates of the LGBTQI+ community.
Last month's pride jersey debacle sparked debates across the game, as the progressive concept quickly took a downward spiral following the withdrawal of seven Manly players from their contest against the Roosters.
While the 'Manly seven' sat out in silence, Rudolf was vocally pushing for the idea to become more widespread, throwing his support behind it the cause, and in an interview with Fox Sports, went into depth about where his stance originated from.
“I think I wanted to just throw my support behind the community that has sort of been there my whole life," he said.
“Also I'm not too fussed to speak about anything about me like I'm not scared of anything to let people know about the things that I do.
“I think the main thing though is the LGBTQI+ community were sort of dragged through the mud that week and they were just looking for a bit of, I wanted to give them a bit of a boost.”
Crediting his mother's gay best friend, Toby's uncle Marty, for guiding him along the way early in life, Rudolf wants to ensure the community feels included and seen, donning a rainbow bumbag before Cronulla's clash with South Sydney last week.
The Sharks' middle forward even channelled Nathan Hindmarsh by sneaking a Will Ferrell quote into his conversation.
“I can understand where people come from with the religious background and whatnot but in the general world today, the modern world it's just ELE, everybody love everybody.”
Rudolf admits he has been surprised by how positive the reaction has been, a sign that the tide is slowly changing in the rugby league community.
"No matter what you say you're always going to have a couple of negative comments but 99% of people just sort of applauded me and my bravery," he said.
“I didn't really think it was that brave I just thought it was me just talking about my stuff, it didn't phase me too much.
“I went out to Northies that night after the game, after we won that golden point game and everyone there was just being really nice as well, being really supportive, saying they loved what I said and yeah overall was just overwhelmingly positive.
"I was really nicely surprised".
Rudolf will continue to be a pillar for not just the Sharks forward pack, but for the LGBTQI+ community, jokingly raising his hand to don the rainbow Budgie Smugglers on the NRL's Mardi Gras float in 2023, certainly a sight for sore eyes in this ever-progressive age.