Paul Kent SLAMS Manly for making ‘marketing decision’ over Rainbow jersey | Daily Mail Online

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Daily Telegraph and Fox League journalist Paul Kent has blasted Manly for making a ‘marketing decision’ and failing to consult the players before deciding to unveil a pride jersey.

The club unveiled the jumper- called Everyone in League – on Monday to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in the NRL, making the Sea Eagles the first team in rugby league’s 134-year history to wear a pride jersey. 

Manly players were set to don the jumper, which features Rainbow colours replacing the traditional white piping on the maroon background, at Brookvale Oval against the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night.

Manly players Sean Keppie (left), Kieran Foran (middle) and Reuben Garrick posed with the club’s Everyone in League jersey, which was unveiled on Monday

The move, however, sparked a major PR storm. 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley have stood down over the pride jersey.

All seven players are said to be opposing to wear the jersey on religious grounds. Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler reportedly told the players he understood they were put in a difficult decision and supported their decision not to play. 

It is understood the players were upset about not being consulted by the club, a move Kent described as a ‘marketing decision’ by Manly.

Daily Telegraph and Fox League journalist Paul Kent slammed Manly for making a ‘marketing decision’ and failing to consult the players

The jumper features Rainbow colours replacing the traditional white piping 

‘The players only became aware they were wearing this jersey this morning when they read it in the newspaper,’ he said on Fox League’s NRL 360 on Monday. 

‘Because of their own cultural and religious beliefs they have an issue with it and it’s to be dealt with and has to be dealt with fairly quickly.

‘Manly did this without any consultation of the players, they did it without board approval, it didn’t get raised at board level. It’s basically a marketing decision and they just assumed that everything was OK.’

Manly will reportedly hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday in an attempt to try and resolve the situation, which has left them in a precarious position. Kent added the fallout from the jersey unveiling was an ’embarrassing look’ for Manly, suggesting the issue was of their own making.

The Daily Telegraph reported Manly wingers Jason Saab and Christian Tuipulotu are among the players who oppose wearing the jersey on religious grounds 

‘This talk about inclusion – Wearing the Manly jersey for me is inclusion,’ he said.

‘To inflict their own political views onto players who may not share that and are now being forced to feel the consequences of that is a real oversight from the Manly club and something they should be embarrassed about.’ 

Former Wallabies star Israel Folau famously had his Australia contract torn up in 2019 after he posted a meme on social media which said ‘hell’ awaits homosexuals and other groups he considered as ‘sinners’.

An evangelical Christian, Folau returned to rugby league in France in 2020 and tried to revive his career in the sport in Australia but was blocked by local officials. The 33-year-old returned to Test rugby last month, when Tonga took on Fiji in the Pacific Nations Cup. 

Israel Folau was exiled by Australia three years ago following his homophobic remarks

But Kent insisted the circumstances at Manly vastly differed from the former Wallaby’s predicament.

‘Unlike Israel Folau, who has caused all sorts of controversy with his own views, what’s happened is the club has imposed their own politics on these players,’ he said.

‘These players have been inadvertently embroiled in this scandal and they will be hopefully protected but they will be under pressure now through no fault of their own.’

Manly’s interim chief executive Gary Wolman said the club was proud of the initiative and of the message it sent to the community. 

The Sea Eagles wore a vintage kit on Friday in their loss against St George Illawarra, but the NRL has ruled out allowing players to wear an alternative jumper 

‘The Sea Eagles have such a rich and diverse history in rugby league and in the community,’ he said at the unveiling of the jersey.

‘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 jersey also got the approval of former Sea Eagles great Ian Roberts, who in 1995 became the first rugby league player to come out as gay.

‘LGBTIQA people have always been a part of sport but haven’t always been allowed the visibility,’ Roberts said. ‘I have been trying to get the NRL to have a pride round for the past three years and it still hasn’t got the traction it deserves.’

Paul Kent SLAMS Manly for making ‘marketing decision’ over Rainbow jersey

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