Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas has revealed he prayed to become straight before he married his wife.

He appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show last night and told the lesbian presenter the lengths he went to in order to avoid his homosexuality.

“I became the master of playing the straight bat,” he told DeGeneres. “I would go to bars with the boys, I would always be the one to start a fight, to be outrageous and drink the most.

“I even went to the extreme of marrying the perfect woman for me.

“I remember I used to go to the church we were due to get married in and I would sit there in the graveyard and look up to the steeple..clench my hands and close my eyes as tight as I could and pray to be straight.”

The former Welsh captain, who came out a year ago, is the only out gay professional rugby player.

Since coming out publicly, he has revealed how he broke the news to his teammates, his parents and his wife Jemma, who he told first. The couple are now divorced but on friendly terms.

Thomas described his parents’ reactions several weeks after he had phoned them to say he was gay.

He said: “My mother said ‘Fetch the champagne from the fridge’ and I replied that I didn’t know why we were drinking champagne.

“My father, who is a tough guy and doesn’t say much, said ‘Son I just want to sit here and toast to the rest of your life’.

“I knew then that was an acceptance from my family.”

After the show, DeGeneres wrote on Twitter: “Gareth Thomas is the first openly gay male athlete on any pro team. He’s a hero, and I talked to him today.”

Thomas is also set to be the subject of a film by Hollywood star Mickey Rourke.

Rourke, who is said to be a rugby fan, intends to play Thomas as well as overseeing the project.

Thomas’ agent Emanuele Palladino said at the weekend that Rourke planned to learn Welsh and “get rid of his two front teeth” to play the role convincingly.