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Seven Manly Sea Eagles players will boycott this week's NRL match because they are refusing to wear the club's pride jersey.
Club coach Des Hasler has 'accepted' the players' decision and is supporting them not playing in Thursday's clash against the Sydney Roosters, according to The Age.
The news outlet claims Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula and Toafofoa Sipley are the players who won't be running onto the field for the game.
The decision to boycott the pride jersey is said to be based on cultural and religious grounds.
They were reportedly unhappy with the lack of consultation on the uniform that has several thin rainbow lines running around them.
The furore over the jersey happened on the same day the Sea Eagles unveiled the special top.
Manly was set to become the first NRL club to have a pride jersey.
In a press release, the Sea Eagles said they will 'proudly wear a rainbow-detailed jersey to celebrate inclusiveness'.
Interim Sea Eagles CEO Gary Wolman said they were proud of the jersey and what it means for the LGBTQIA+ community.
“The Sea Eagles have such a rich and diverse history in rugby league and in the community,’’ Wolman said.
“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.”
The Sea Eagles launched the pride jersey along with Dynasty Sport.
Dynasty Sport founder and director Tyler Rakich added in a statement: “Sport is one of those great things where people come together from all walks of life and participate in something without exclusion.
"This jersey is a celebration of that and the first of its kind in the NRL."
Hours after the jersey was unveiled, the club was locked in crisis meetings about what to do with the players who didn't want to wear it.
Thursday's match against the Roosters is crucial for Manly as the club is sitting just off the top eight and a win against the boys in red, white and blue would help their chances of playing in the finals.
However, those hopes have been severely diminished now that a large chunk of the team has bailed.
Sea Eagles legend Ian Roberts, who was the first rugby league player to come out as gay, was devastated.
"It's sad and uncomfortable. As an older gay man, this isn't unfamiliar. I did wonder whether there would be any religious pushback. That's why I think the NRL have never had a Pride round," Roberts said to The Daily Telegraph.
"I can promise you every young kid on the northern beaches who is dealing with their sexuality would have heard about this."
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