Manly’s handling of the Pride shirt saga has come under fire again after Paul Kent accused the club of hanging the boycotting players out to dry and club owner Scott Penn slammed his silence on the matter.
Seven Sea Eagles players have bowed out for Thursday night’s clash with the Sydney Roosters after the club announced it will wear the Pride jersey – with rainbow stripes and embellishments.
Manly manager Des Hasler and captain Daly Cherry-Evans appeared in front of the media on Tuesday to apologize on behalf of the club for how the incident was handled, but NRL 360 Co-host and Daily Telegraph Reporter Kent doubled down on his earlier criticism of the club on Tuesday night.
“They[Hassler and Cherry-Evans]had to answer for others’ mistakes. It is very poor. It’s the most brilliant rugby league stupidity that ever happened to Mali,” Kent said.
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“…Scott Penn had to do a highlight interview with everybody (Tuesday),” said Kent, who owns the Sea Eagles. “I don’t care what time it is in New York. Instead of sacking Des and Cheri-Evans, as the owner of the club he should have done something, he should have done some explaining.
“The thing about this story… look, there’s all kinds of branches to this story, but when you boil it down… it’s considered rude to ask people about politics or religion, especially strangers.
“But now we are forcing players’ groups to accept it, whether you want to call it a political philosophy or not, because it is armed with political arguments.”
They are being asked to accept that and while all we talk about is inclusion, I don’t know anyone in rugby league who has been discriminated against because of their sexuality.
“Ian Roberts left 27 years ago and I know no one has come in to replace him.
“Most of the time when you get into the conversation about this, it’s because you don’t want to be in a situation where Ian Roberts is forced to be the spokesperson every time this happens.”
“Of course there were gay players, we know gay players and a couple of bisexual players, everything is there. There are players in the game that we know now, but this is their personal work. All power is to them if they want to get out. But they are definitely not out of the group.
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Kent warned the case could “turn the squad into the club”. He said the argument that the players were against inclusion was “ridiculous” because they were “left to dry by the football club because they were not consulted”.
“They have their own cultural and religious beliefs as to why they don’t want to stand for this,” he said.
“Immediately it gets politicized and the smart guy sits there and rugby league continues to drive this agenda where we don’t have the brains or brains to sit back and think in these circumstances.
Partner Daily Telegraph Journalist Paul Crowley also criticized the leadership of the Sea Eagles and expressed concern for the future leadership of the club.
“This will go through certain channels in the NRL as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
“Why didn’t someone stand up and say, ‘Wait a minute, we have to be very careful here.’
“We have to run it through the playing squad, we have to run it through the coach, we have to run it through the (Rugby League Players’ Association), I’m a bit surprised it’s Manly’s decision and it can’t happen. The NRL’s decision.”
“If you’re dealing with something that you know is going to be divisive, Google is going to tell you that it has the potential to blow up in your face, whether it’s Manly or the NRL, if someone stands up and says we’d better look at it, I don’t believe it.”
“If I’m a Manly fan I should be very concerned about the management of my football club, what kind of decision is being made on something so big that only the squad is learning about it 24 hours before it’s made public.”
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Daily Telegraph Reporter David Riccio reported that Hassler was expected to wait until midnight Monday to deal with the fallout.
“Even though this jersey has been in the works for several months, these jerseys weren’t made in a week, like I said, they’ve been in the works for months,” Riccio said.
There were parts of the Manly club who were completely involved in the process and design of this shirt to the point where Des Hasler had a problem at 5pm last night because I believe there were eight players and not seven players drafted. To wear the shirt.
This leads to a series of phone calls, meetings. I understand that Des Hasler stayed up past midnight yesterday to set up today’s press conference by writing the speech he gave at the press conference.
“Also, there have been discussions as far as the ability to not pay players who choose to step down, I don’t think that’s happened, but it’s certainly been raised.”
With seven players sidelined for Thursday night’s game against the Roosters, the Sea Eagles have named a number of debutants at the club, including former Delhi M Hooker of the Year James Segearo, who will take the field without having played an NRL game. From 2019.
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