NRL players across several clubs have weighed in on the controversy engulfing Manly.
Seven Sea Eagles players withdrew from selection for their clash against the Roosters on Thursday in protest to the club wearing a pride jersey.
Players were not consulted on the decision which saw Jason Saab, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula, Josh Aloiai, Toafofoa Sipley and Christian Tuipulotu all boycott the game on religious grounds.
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The changes to the jersey included several rainbow strips in an attempt to, “represent diversity and inclusion for all.”
Dragons duo Andrew McCullough and Jaydn Su’A said they’d have no issues wearing a pride jersey.
McCullough took a subtle dig at the Manly players, pointing out one of their major sponsor is a brand of beer – drinking alcohol is also considered a sin.
“It wouldn’t bother me. I drink beer on the weekend so wearing a jersey like that won’t bother me,” McCullough told the Illawarra Mercury.
“You are going to be without seven players at this time of the year. In hindsight maybe they could have been asked beforehand.
“But it is a hard one, not being there it is hard to comment.”
Su’A admitted it was a tough situation for all involved.
“We don’t have that drama here, we don’t have a pride jersey but everyone has different perspectives and opinions,” Su’A said.
“I can’t really comment with what they are doing. It is probably a tough situation, they are around that 20 point mark as well.
“To miss seven quality players….you know it hurts.
“But at the end of the day it is their choice, their belief.
“I’m here to play footy, I’d wear the jersey if that is what the club needed me to do.”
Following Manly’s release of their Round 20 jersey, Rabbitohs forward Thomas Burgess expressed his approval of the Sea Eagles latest jersey on Instagram, suggesting the Rabbitohs follow a similar initiative.
“Let’s do the south’s jersey in rainbow colours! That would be fire,” he wrote.
Parramatta Eels captain Clint Gutherson admitted it was a “delicate” topic.
“A lot of people just play the game and want to just play the game,” Gutherson said on Big Sports Breakfast.
“There’s always a lot of news out there that people have, it’s a hard one, it’s a delicate one.
“They’re in a tough situation but that’s what the situation is and they’ve got to resolve it.”
Warriors forward and former Sea Eagles star Addin Fonua-Blake understood the reasoning of the players’ decision.
“I know there are a lot of cultural beliefs and religion that goes into their decision not to wear the jersey, but I’ve got nothing but respect for the boys and I’ve got no bad comments on it,” Fonua-Blake told Stuff.co.nz.
His teammate Shaun Johnson was balanced in his opinion.
“I just think each to their own,” he said.
“I’m OK with it if we’re asked to respect the pride community and we should also respect the Christian or religious community as well.
“So that’s where I’m at with it. I don’t have an opinion either way. It’s not for me to worry about.”
Originally published as ‘I drink beer… so wearing a jersey like that won’t bother me’: NRL players weigh in on Manly saga