Manly’s Pride Jersey Has Sold Out After 7 Players Announced They Would Boycott The Round

It is understood that three players may have changed their minds after a crisis meeting on Monday night.


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Seven Manly Sea Eagles players are reportedly refusing to play this week after the club unveiled a pride jersey — featuring rainbow stripes — to be worn during this week’s game against the Sydney Roosters.

Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula, and Toafofoa Sipley all reportedly indicated they would not be wearing the jersey — citing religious reasons. The decision to stand down has been supported by Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler.

However, it is understood that at least three of the men have since changed their minds and are considering wearing the jersey after an emergency club meeting on Monday night, according to 7 News. “Of the seven players who are refusing to wear the jersey, at least three now have had a bit of a change of heart and are considering wearing the pride jersey for this upcoming round,” reporter Michelle Bishop told Sunrise on Tuesday morning.

Manly’s decision to unveil the pride jersey — entitled Everyone in League — is an NRL first, in an attempt to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in the sport. While the AFL has held a pride round since 2016, the NRL has never incorporated one.

Sea Eagles players Kieran Foran, Reuben Garrick and Sean Keppie modelled the new jersey in promotional photos, with Foran publicly speaking out in support of the move. “We are very proud to wear this jersey that delivers such an important message in society today,” said Foran in a statement. “The great game of rugby league is for everyone, irrespective of who you are or where you have come from.”

The move is particularly symbolic for the Sea Eagles, the home club of Ian Roberts — who became the first openly gay rugby league player in 1995. In the years following, Roberts faced an onslaught of homophobic abuse from fans and members of the public.

Roberts told The Daily Telegraph he was saddened by the boycott of the jersey.

“I try to see it from all perspectives but this breaks my heart,” Roberts told The Daily Telegraph. “It’s sad and uncomfortable. As an older gay man, this isn’t unfamiliar. I did wonder whether there would be any religious pushback. That’s why I think the NRL have never had a Pride round.

“I can promise you every young kid on the northern beaches who is dealing with their sexuality would have heard about this.”

But while the seven Manly players refused to wear the jersey, fans were quick to snap up the kit, with the men’s jersey selling out within hours of the news breaking of the boycott. Women’s jerseys sold out shortly after, with only a limited number of junior sizes remaining at the time of publishing.

Although club reportedly unveiled the jersey without consulting players or receiving board approval, interim CEO Gary Wolman says he stands by the decision and has stressed that the club is proud to spread the message.

“The Sea Eagles have such a rich and diverse history in rugby league and in the community,’’ Wolman said in a statement. “To be able to bring this concept to life with Dynasty sport is a fantastic achievement and we are pleased to be able to share such an important message that means so much to many people in the community.”

At this stage, the club has no plans to scrap the jersey ahead of this week’s clash against the Roosters, but the club is expected to comment further later today.