Gareth Thomas played in the 2007 Rugby World Cup fearing he could be outed by the press any day, he said this week.
The former Wales captain, who came out in December, revealed that at the time, he was constantly getting calls telling him the media were about to out him.
Wales was forced out of the competition before the knock-out round and Thomas said it was a “really tough time” for him.
He told BBC Scrum V radio: “I was in touch with a solicitor the whole time because I was getting calls constantly about the story me being gay was going to hit the papers.
“I’m here representing my country trying to do my job to the best of my ability.
“Yet I had people threatening to go to print about me being gay.
“I was trying my best to take myself away from the squad because I didn’t want the squad to see me thinking.”
Thomas did not come out for another two years. He revealed in December that he and his wife Jemma had split over his sexual orientation, although they were still friends.
But he added that despite the turmoil, he never considered leaving the Wales team
“He said: “For me to pull out would have been surrendering to the red tops. You almost try and give a little bit more of fight back.”
Thomas is leaving the union team Cardiff Blues to join the rugby league side the Crusaders, it was revealed this week.
He said the move was not about money and that he wanted a “fresh challenge”.