Professional rugby league player and model Stuart Reardon has spoken out against anti-gay laws in Russia, but says that he does not support a boycott of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, because he thinks athletes should not be punished.

On calls for a boycott of the Sochi games, the rugby star said athletes could send a more positive message by attending.

The 31-year-old rugby star speaks to GT (Gay Times) in its current issue to say he thinks there is no reason a gay player should not be able to come out in rugby, and that he does not choose his friends based on sexuality.

Asked about the attention he sometimes gets from gay men, he says: “It seemed to get some gay guys’ attention… I don’t know what they like about me, I have a pretty good personality and I take care of my body… but it’s nice to be liked. I don’t base my friendships on a person because of their sexuality but if our personalities connect and we have mutual interests. And Gay Times is a really big magazine, why wouldn’t a sportsman want to be in it?

“I don’t know why a gay player wouldn’t come out because it’s not a big deal anymore,” he continues. “Society has changed and it would be accepted. I know it’s each person’s personal choice but rugby has taken big steps in being accepting of homosexuality. Gareth Thomas definitely helped things. Rugby is a working class game and its players are down to earth – they’re all easy to get along with and want to help people out. They are very supportive to any sexuality.”

When asked about whether or not he supports a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics based on the Russian law banning the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships, he said: “What’s happened over there is disgusting. But if you’ve been training for the last four years and you’re in a position where you could win a medal, you’re going to want to compete aren’t you? If I was a gay athlete I think it would send a stronger message to go. Being in the public eye, you have a wider opportunity to voice your opinion to wider audience and send a positive message. That would make more of an impact than boycotting.”

The October issue of GT is available now.