Just hours after announcing their historic intention to don a special jersey to promote inclusivity under the title ‘Everyone in League’, it now appears some players are not so on board with the idea.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that up to seven Manly Sea Eagles players are considering pulling out of this Thursday’s game if they’re required to wear it.
While only Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu and Josh Aloiai were named in the original report, it's now believed Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley have completed the list of seven players who will miss this weekend's game.
7 Manly players won't play this weekend
— Michael Chammas (@MichaelChammas) July 25, 2022
It's understood Des Hasler will support the decision of the players to stand down.
It’s an interesting choice on moral and religious grounds given the players have expressed no objection to the team’s jersey sponsor being a betting company or a brewing company having naming rights to their stadium.
It’s not the first time an Australian sports team has faced this situation, with AFLW GWS Giants player Haneen Zreika stood down from a game after declining to wear a pride jersey on religious grounds.
Kieran Foran, Sean Keppie and Reuben Garrick were pictured in the new-look jerseys, and a video was also released to promote the theme of this week’s game behind a massive and historic announcement for an NRL club.
There were also plans for Manly club icon Ian Roberts – the only openly-gay NRL footballer – to be in attendance for the historic moment.
“Honestly, I’ve been trying to get the NRL to have a pride round for the past three years and it still hasn’t got the traction it deserves,” said Roberts, who threw his support behind the club’s decision this morning.
“It’s wonderful the sporting community is finally embracing all parts of the community. That’s what this is, total acceptance and inclusion. I’m so proud of Manly for doing this.”
Clearly not everyone is as accepting and inclusive as Roberts - and the club - were hoping.
The NRL has previously drawn support for its involvement in the Sydney Mardi Gras and their messaging during the 2017 Grand Final, but this latest news shows certain parts of the game still have a long way to go.