James Graham believes the Manly players who boycotted the game against the Roosters because of the pride of the Sea Eagles have spoken out and their decision could divide the team.
Graham understood that the players had their own cultural and religious beliefs, but he could not see how they could not hold on to those beliefs and still take to the field in Round 20 in their jerseys.
“For me personally I think it was an overreaction from the players,” Graham told NRL 360.
“There are only a few colors on the jersey. It’s not worth losing a past game.
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“You may have your faith, but really? Is this the hill you’re going to die on?”
“It’s just not worth it. Just accept it and just crack it.
Brett Anastas agreed with Graham but emphasized how difficult it was to put himself in the shoes of the Malian players.
“The hardest part is I agree with you because that’s what I believe,” Anasta said.
“I want to support them. I played regardless because I wanted to win the game.
“But we are not us. That’s why it’s hard for me to put myself in their shoes.
However, Graham revealed that he has played with players who have deep religious beliefs, and he still doesn’t think this event should miss a game.
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“I know people who are deeply religious and I don’t think it’s worth dying on a hill,” Graham said.
“I don’t think it’s good to put your flag in this place.
Anastas asked if the player boycott has the potential to be divisive in the dressing room and Graham is well placed to comment from experience.
“I think so,” said Graham.
“I’ve been involved in a team with Will Hopote before, who chose not to play on Sunday.
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“I know it’s all right to say it publicly, but I know privately that there are some players who have a problem with it.
“That certainly didn’t help Canterbury’s cause that year.
“I respect it, but I know some people are very surprised.”
Wade Graham believes the club should have consulted the players much earlier so solutions could have been worked out.
Asked if the club should have consulted the players, Graham said: “Obviously yes.”
“It’s been a long time since we started designing the jersey and wearing it.
“I think to some extent the amount of push back from the playing group should have been floated.
“On their side, they may be able to find a solution that suits everyone because it’s too late now to find a way out of a difficult situation.”
“They were not winners and I am sorry for every aspect that was affected by this.”