Keegan Hirst makes shock return to Rugby League

Keegan Hirst has made a surprise return to Rugby League by signing with Championship side Batley Bulldogs.

It was while at Batley in 2015 that Hirst became the first player to come out publicly as gay while playing in the English game.

The forward, who has also played for Hunslet, Dewsbury Rams, Featherstone Rovers, Wakefield Trinity and Halifax Panthers in his career, was due to return to the Bulldogs for a third spell in 2021 but instead opted to retire.

But the 34-year-old has now reversed that decision.

“Covid added to my own personal circumstances and made me lose touch with some of the things that I hold dearest to me; friends and rugby league,” he was quoted by Sky Sports as saying.

“After the recent thickly-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.

“I still have plenty of games in me and look forward to helping Batley continue their incredible season as they ready for their play-off campaign.”