Manly boss breaks promise that team will wear another Pride jersey after last season’s fiasco – unless the NRL organises a round that sees every team promote the cause
Manly chief executive Tony Mestrov has retreated on the Sea Eagles’ commitment to wear a rainbow jersey next season, claiming the club will only play in one if it is part of a game-wide initiative.
At a press conference where Anthony Seibold was welcomed as the club’s new NRL head coach on a three-year deal on Tuesday, the focus was firmly centred on the exit of his predecessor Des Hasler.
Hasler’s second stint at the club will be defined by the end to the 2022 season when seven players opted against wearing the club’s LGBTQI+ jersey in round 20 on religious grounds.
Manly chief Tony Mestrov has backtracked on the club’s commitment to the pride jersey
The Sea Eagles were on the precipice of the finals but lost seven straight after that game and the club later opted to sack Hasler.
Despite the backlash among the club’s players, Manly’s US-based owner Scott Penn had indicated that the club was committed to wearing a pride jersey in 2023.
ARL commission chairman Peter V’landys said earlier this month that the concept of a pride round would be explored prior to the season, but Mestrov said his club wouldn’t be leading the charge.
‘If there’s any initiatives, they’ll be run by the NRL,’ he said on Tuesday.
The NRL club’s season unravelled after seven players refused to wear the jersey this year
‘Any initiative will be put forward by them (the NRL) and not us.
‘I think at the end of the day the NRL will do the consulting with the players and the Rugby League Players Association, rather than the club itself.
‘It works much better that way we feel.’
Mestrov alluded to the fact that the seven players who chose not to wear the rainbow jersey were all of Polynesian backgrounds.
He claimed that Seibold was the right appointment from a ‘cultural point of view’ to bring Manly’s dressing room together after the split between those who didn’t play.
‘Education and communication are key,’ Seibold said.
Mestrov says the club will only wear a rainbow jersey again as part of a game-wide initiative
‘When the time is right – and if it (the fallout from the pride jersey) needs to be addressed – like any family we’ll get our challenges on the table.’
Mestrov, who wasn’t in the post when the jersey saga engulfed the club, said the Sea Eagles had failed to consider their players with their ham-fisted rollout of the rainbow jersey.
‘There’s no way the players shouldn’t have been communicated to (about the introduction of the jersey),’ he said.
‘If we can do that (communicate) in the future, everyone knows where they stand and that’s the most important thing for this club moving forward.
‘It was important that they (the seven players) cleared the air, it’s done, Anthony’s here, it’s a clean slate and we can get on with winning football games.’