The seven Manly Sea Eagles players have emphatically shut down reports they would backflip on their pride jersey boycott to wear one in the future.
It was reported on Thursday night prior to the club’s contest against the Sydney Roosters the seven players had agreed to wear a pride jersey next season by the club’s owner.
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Sea Eagles owner Scott Penn said before the match that the players’ main issue wasn’t centered entirely on the jersey itself, but the lack of consultation concerning their religious and cultural stance.
“I think they were somewhat frustrated that it went as far as it did without consultation, and we respect that,” Penn told 9News.
“We are all about inclusiveness, so we will continue this theme.”
That report has been shut down with 9News’ Danny Weidler tweeting the latest twist in the ongoing saga.
“Manly 7 fuming about claim they will soften their stance on “pride jersey”. A representative of the group contacted me to say “they don’t backflip on religious beliefs” and to suggest they would fold on their stance is “totally untrue”, he wrote.
Seven players — Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley — were opposed to wearing the jersey due to their religious beliefs and stood down from the match.
The boycott sparked a widespread backlash over the past few days from rugby league circles including former players, current playersthe openly gay Manly legend Ian Robertsshapes English star Keegan Hirstwho came out while still playing, Roosters coach Trent Robinson as well as entertainers, other sports duck social media stars.
Penn said the players are prepared to sit down with Roberts and have a discussion with him.
“The players we met with are keen to talk to him, and get their message across and they want to hear from him,” he said.
Coach Des Hasler admitted to a “significant mistake” on the clubs’ behalf and, despite reports of three of the players wavering on their stance, all seven players would be unavailable.
Hasler couldn’t answer one question during the press conference after he admitted: “None of the coaching staff or the players had prior knowledge of the jersey.”
He was later asked why hadn’t they been consulted, to which Hasler replied: “You’ll have to talk to management about that, I can’t answer that”.