UPDATE: Seven Manly players are set to sit out of Thursday’s clash with the Roosters in protest of the club wearing a pride jersey.
The Sea Eagles announced players would wear the rainbow-adorned jersey to promote the inclusion of the LGBTQ community in rugby league during their round 20 NRL game against the Roosters at Brookvale Oval.
However, just hours after the jersey was unveiled, Nine’s Danny Weidler revealed that a number of players had been seriously considering withdrawing from the game.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the cohort has cited cultural and religious grounds as their reason for not wanting to don the jersey.
The players withdrawing from the clash are understood to be Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula and Toafofoa Sipley.
It is understood the playing group was not consulted on the club’s plans to wear the jersey prior to the unveiling on Monday.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Manly coach Des Hasler understands the players’ reasons and supports their decisions not to play.
After the club initially planned to meet with the players involved at training on Tuesday, the meeting was brought forward to Monday night.
The news came only hours after the club unveiled the “Everyone In League” jersey, which features rainbow colours in a section of the jersey that would normally be plain white.
Interim Sea Eagles CEO Gary Wolman had spoken positively and said the club was proud of the jersey.
“The Sea Eagles have such a rich and diverse history in rugby league and in the community,” Wolman said.
Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now
“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.”
Ian Roberts – the Manly legend who was the first professional rugby league player to come out as gay – is reportedly planning to attend Thursday’s game to support the cause.
Manly must name a 22-player squad for the game on Tuesday afternoon.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!