The owner of the Manly Sea Eagles says the players who have boycotted tonight’s match against the Roosters have agreed to wear a pride jersey next season, as long as they are consulted.
The drama erupted earlier this week when seven players sensationally stood down after the club announced the pride jersey.
Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
The jersey features three rainbow stripes and trim and will be worn as a one-off this week.
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.
Sea Eagles owner Scott Penn said on Friday the players’ main issue wasn’t centred 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.”
Penn confirmed Manly plans to wear a pride jersey against next season and said the seven players in question have suggested they will get involved.
“Yes. that’s the message they were very clear on — let’s work together,” he said.
The boycott sparked a widespread backlash over the past few days from rugby league circles including former players, current players. the openly gay Manly legend Ian Roberts, former English 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 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 to 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”.
It includes debuts for wingers Pio Seci and Alfred Smalley, and the grandson of club legend and Immortal Bob Fulton Zac.
It will also see the club debut of James Segeyaro, who will play his first NRL game since 2019 after a drugs ban, and Morgan Boyle’s first game of the season.
One gamer Kaeo Weekes and uncapped James Roumanos were also named on the extended bench.
Originally published as Manly Sea Eagles players plan to end pride jersey boycott