Seven Manly Sea Eagles players have emphatically shut down reports they will back their Pride jersey boycott to wear one in the future.
It has been reported by the club owner that seven players have agreed to wear the pride jersey next season ahead of the club’s clash with the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night.
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Sea Eagles owner Scott Penn said before the game that the players’ main issue was not solely focused on the jerseys, but rather on their religious and cultural beliefs.
“I think they’re somewhat upset that he went as far as he did without consultation, and we respect that,” Penn told 9News.
“We’re all about inclusion, so we’re going to continue that theme.”
That report was debunked when 9News’ Danny Weidler tweeted the latest on the ongoing report.
“Manly 7” furiously saying they will soften their stance on the “Pride shirt”. A representative of the group contacted me and wrote that they “do not back down on their religious beliefs” and to suggest that they stand by their position is “absolutely untrue”.
Seven players – Josh Aloyai, Jason Saab, Christian Tupulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakauatu, Tolutau Kula and Toafofoa Siplei – objected to wearing the jersey due to their religious beliefs and withdrew from the game.
The attack over the past few days has drawn from rugby league circles former players, current players, gay Manly legend Ian Roberts, ex-England star Keegan Hirst, who came out while still playing, Roosters coach Trent Robinson as well as entertainers, other sports and social media stars.
Penn said the players are ready to sit down with Roberts and talk with him.
“The players we’ve met want to talk to him and get their message across and they want to hear from him,” he said.
Manager Des Hassler admitted a “big mistake” was made on behalf of the clubs and although three players were confirmed to be out of position, all seven players will be absent.
“Neither the coaching staff nor the players had prior knowledge of the jersey,” Hassler said during the press conference, after which he was unable to answer one question.
Asked later why they weren’t consulted, Hassler replied, “You’d have to talk to management about that. I’m not going to answer that.”