UK rugby star Ben Cohen says he's happy to be a sex symbol to gay men.

The handsome, six-foot-two star of the Sale Sharks club says he's never actively courted a gay following but is happy about his status as a gay icon.

Cohen, who is married to his wife Abbie and has two children, twin daughters Hariette and Isabelle, began his professional sports career at the age of 17.

“I have been lucky to have had great success in my career with winning the World Cup in 2003 with England and the Heineken Cup with Northampton in 2000,” Cohen, now 31, says.

In 2008, he was named UK gay glossy Gay Times' sport personality of the year.

In a cover story for gay sports magazine Compete, Cohen talked about his gay following.

“I embrace diversity more than just a gay fanbase,” he said. “I am happy and content in my life and feel that everyone should have the opportunity of feeling that way and being true to themselves.”

“I have never really thought about whether I court a gay fanbase. I actually find it quite amazing that people are so interested in me in that way. I don't see it myself. But it seems that my acceptance of those who like me makes a big difference to a lot of gay men.”

Cohen added that he's received numerous communications from gay men who say he's inspired them to come out and from parents that say he's helped them accept their gay child.

“I have no idea how I have managed to do that, I have to confess. But if my openness has done that then it seems that it is the right way to be.”