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Manly Sea Eagles boycotter Josh Aloiai breaks silence on club’s NRL rainbow jersey saga

Manly star Josh Aloiai, who was one of the seven to boycott the club’s pride jersey over religious beliefs, has insisted he will never wear a pride jersey because he doesn’t want to ‘endorse’ homosexual relationships.

The 26-year-old, who is a Christian, was one of the Sea Eagles players who stood themselves down and refused to wear the club’s rainbow ‘Everyone in League’ jersey in round 20.

It was a move that ignited a storm of controversy and eventually derailed the club’s season, which culminated in the sacking of coach Des Hasler earlier this month.

Manly owner Scott Penn conceded in July that while players were placed in a tough position, the club will wear a rainbow pride jersey again in 2023 – but Aloiai will not be one of those players. 

Josh Aloiai, pictured enjoying a day on the water with wife Taleah, has revealed his reasons for boycotting the pride jersey – and says he will never wear one

The Samoan forward finally broke his silence over the saga, revealing he will never pull on a rainbow pride jumper. 

‘The short answer is no, I won’t (play in a pride jersey),’ he said in a Channel 9 interview. 

‘We didn’t compromise this year and we won’t compromise next year or the year after.

‘You should never be put in that situation where your religious or cultural views or beliefs conflict with your job,’ said Aloiai. 

Manly's rainbow pride jersey being worn by a player during the club's round 20 clash against the Roosters. Aloiai and seven other players boycott the match for religious reasons, refusing to wear the jumper called 'Everyone in League'

Manly’s rainbow pride jersey being worn by a player during the club’s round 20 clash against the Roosters. Aloiai and seven other players boycott the match for religious reasons, refusing to wear the jumper called ‘Everyone in League’

Josh Aloiai is a father to Uriah, and is also expecting a new baby shortly with wife Taleah

Josh Aloiai is a father to Uriah, and is also expecting a new baby shortly with wife Taleah

Aloiai, along with Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley, all refused to wear the jersey due to their religious beliefs.

Many of them, including Aloiai, are very open about their Christianity and views on social media, with Sipley having multiple anti-homosexuality posts on his Instagram dating back to 2010. Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Sipley is homophobic or authored the posts.

Aloiai himself, a member of a Pentecostal church, often posts bible messages on his social media account. 

A bible verse (from a Christian app called Sprinkle of Jesus) Josh Aloiai posted on his social media. The Manly prop often posts references to his faith

A bible verse (from a Christian app called Sprinkle of Jesus) Josh Aloiai posted on his social media. The Manly prop often posts references to his faith 

In December 2020, he also posted an anti-abortion quote by conservative political commentator, Ben Shapiro, which read: ‘If a baby were outside the womb and you stick a knife through its chest you’d be charged with first-degree murder. You kill it inside the womb and we call it a ‘human right’.’

The 121-game forward, who is currently in England representing Samoa in the World Cup was asked by interviewer Emma Lawrence why he insists his views are respected when he doesn’t respect the rights of people to be in homosexual relationships. 

Aloiai offered a strong response, reaffirming he could not ‘endorse’ same-sex people or couples, but felt the media coverage was unfair.

Aloiai attended the club's presentation night on September 7 with wife Taleah, saying he would 'take the good with the bad' on his post

Aloiai attended the club’s presentation night on September 7 with wife Taleah, saying he would ‘take the good with the bad’ on his post

‘We (seven Manly boycotters) personally don’t want to live that way or endorse it but, at the same time, we quietly took our stance (to not wear a pride jersey),’ he said.

‘Instead we were the ones that were called everything under the sun.’

Aloiai, whose older sister is gay, denied his strong stance affected their relationship.

‘Me and her (have a tight relationship) and she knows that I love her to bits,’ he said.

‘Throughout all this happening, we did have a chat and she totally understood where I was coming from.

‘She rang me up and was like: ‘How are you going? You all right? It’s so crazy the way the media has blown this out of proportion’,’ said Aloiai. 

Josh Aloiai, pictured with son Uriah and wife Taleah last Christmas, which he captioned: 'Family day celebrating Jesus'

Josh Aloiai, pictured with son Uriah and wife Taleah last Christmas, which he captioned: ‘Family day celebrating Jesus’

At the time, a gay up-and-coming Manly player was reportedly ‘devastated’ with the actions of his clubmates, while league’s first-ever out player, Sea Eagles legend Ian Roberts, also admitted he was ‘heartbroken’ by the boycotters’ stance.

Other high-profile players, pundits and fans also took aim at Aloiai and the ‘Manly Seven’, accusing them of religious double standards given the club’s home ground is named after a beer company and their shirt features a betting company right across the front.

Queensland legend-turned-commentator Corey Parker was one of those people, and Aloiai called him an ‘idiot’ for doing so. 

‘Corey Parker, he came and said we shouldn’t pick and choose. He hammered us in the media, (saying) we run out with our gambling sponsored jerseys and betting-sponsored stadium,’ he said.

‘I would love for him to show me in the Bible where it mentions gambling. It doesn’t, nor does it forbid alcohol within itself. He’s an idiot.’

That is a comment up for debate, given the bible features multiple references to not coveting money or games of chance (1 Timothy 6:9-10, Proverbs 13:11).

The old testament (Proverbs 23:31) also features the verse: ‘Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.’

Josh Aloiai has played 31 matches for the Sea Eagles since joining ahead of the 2021 season after playing 90 games for the Tigers

Josh Aloiai has played 31 matches for the Sea Eagles since joining ahead of the 2021 season after playing 90 games for the Tigers

Former Manly player Manase Fainu (left) shakes hands with Josh Aloiai, who supported his former teammate in court in August. Fainu was eventually found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after a church brawl

Former Manly player Manase Fainu (left) shakes hands with Josh Aloiai, who supported his former teammate in court in August. Fainu was eventually found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after a church brawl

But Aloiai, who spent much of August supporting former teammate Manase Fainu in court after he was found guilty of stabbing a Mormon church leader, does not deserve vilification, either. 

The proudly gay Roberts admitted as such in the wake of the scandal, urging both gay and straight people to ‘respect’ their stance even in the wave of the homophobic comments many queer people face on a regular basis. 

Aloiai, like his Samoan teammates, has faced an up-and-down start to the World Cup in England, despite the team being fancied as tournament dark horses.

They will look to make it back-to-back wins when they take on France on Monday morning (AEST), a must-win clash if they hope to make the quarter finals. 

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