More players outside of the original seven pride jersey boycotters have rejected the opportunity to play for Manly this weekend and wear the club’s history-making rainbow jersey.
Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula, Christian Tuipulotu and Toafofoa Sipley have already announced they’ll be boycotting the side’s crucial match against on the Roosters on Thursday.
Their decision left the club scrambling to replace the seven players ahead of team submission deadline to the NRL at 4pm on Tuesday.
Now a group of lower-graders who were asked to fill in for them have knocked back the chance to play in the game wearing the rainbow jumper, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Manly’s pride jumper for Thursday night’s clash against the Roosters features rainbow colours replacing the traditional white piping
The players – who have not been named – reportedly did so for similar reasons to the original Manly seven, who cited unspecified cultural or religious grounds.
It comes as coach Des Hasler and captain Daly Cherry-Evans addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon to confront the firestorm of controversy.
Des Hasler speaks to the media about the controversy surrounding Manly’s pride jumper on Tuesday afternoon
‘We wish to apologise to the LGBTQ community who embrace the rainbow colours and use these colours for pride and advocacy and human rights issues,’ he said.
‘Our intent was to be caring and compassionate towards all diverse groups who face inclusion issues daily. However, instead of enhancing tolerance, and acceptance, we may have hindered this.’
Sea Eagles utility Josh Schuster is one of the seven players who are refusing to wear the club’s pride jersey
Hasler defended the seven players who are boycotting the match, and admitted the club handled the situation poorly.
‘Sadly, the execution of what was intended to be an extremely important initiative was poor. There was little consultation or collaboration between key stakeholders, both inside and outside the club,’ he explained.
‘No one is forced to do anything in this game. The decision is clear, some people feel strongly about certain things and that is fine.
‘It is a good initiative and it puts 17 people out there who will do many people proud and make those feeling vulnerable a bit more welcome in society,’ said Hasler.
Winger Tolutau Koula is another of the seven Manly players to boycott Thursday’s match
Just one player has been confirmed as being one of the seven replacements: veteran hooker James Segeyaro.
The Kumuls international will play his first NRL game since 2019 after serving a 20 month ban for returning a positive drug sample for ligandrol, which is the drug Shayna Jack also copped a ban for.
New Manly recruit James Segeyaro is the only confirmed replacement for the club after seven players refused the wear the club’s pride jersey
Segeyaro has been playing on a cut-price train and trial contract since joining the club in May, and has impressed for the Eagles’ feeder club, Blacktown Workers.
The talented hooker’s 154 game NRL career has been plagued by disciplinary issues, and he said he was thankful for Hasler’s confidence in him to do a job come Thursday night at Brookvale Oval.
‘Obviously I’ve been given this opportunity due to circumstances, however, that doesn’t change the fact that I have been working to achieve this chance for several seasons,’ Segeyaro told News Corp.
‘I’m grateful for Des (Hasler’s) faith in me and while I’m obviously looking forward to it, I have a job to focus on and I’m confident of playing that role for the team.’
Haumole Olakau’atu is another of the Manly players who are boycotting the side’s match against the Roosters on Thursday
Losing seven players, for any reason never mind in such controversial circumstances, would be devastating – but all the more so given the huge implications of Thursday’s match against the Roosters.
Both sides are level on points, with Manly ninth and the Roosters eighth, as they chase a finals spot with just six rounds left in the regular season.
Hasler promised in the press conference the side would do ‘something special’, but it will need to be a miracle if they are to beat a red-hot Roosters side.
The Chooks are coming off a cumulative 96-38 score line in their victorious past two games, but they’ll still need to be aware of a wounded club on its home deck.
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