A number of high-profile Lebanese stars now appear set to boycott the upcoming World Cup 9s tournament, citing negative developments in healing a rift with the Lebanese national board.
Penrith winger Josh Mansour on Monday said that he and several teammates, including the likes of Michael Lichaa and Tim Mannah, will sit out the two-day event held at Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium later this month.
“We don’t feel like we can play under a federation that lacks trust or confidence,” Mansour told the Daily Telegraph.
“The whole situation is ridiculous. As a player you just want to play. This was a big moment for me to represent my heritage in front of my family and friends.”
This is the latest serious development in a saga lasting much longer between the board and players, dating back to the Test with Fiji during the league season when Robbie Farah was among a group of 18 players, again including Mansour, who were hit with three-game suspensions and $3000 fines for remarks against the board.
As the Rugby League International Federation continues an investigation into the Lebanese board’s operations, players have grown more frustrated with the lack of results to date.
“We don’t want more money or anything like that. We want to get Lebanon rugby league in good shape,” Mansour said.
“We apologise to the fans and the Lebanese community. We need to take this action for the future of Lebanon.
“It might be seen as selfish but we aren’t doing it for ourselves.”