Homophobic Roots Curtails Sea Eagles Cause

Manly Sea Eagles Pride Jersey
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cover Art

*Every opinion and view stated in this article is entirely that of my own.

In the 114-year history of professional Rugby League within Australia, no club has ever attempted to break down barriers of massive importance. That was the case until Manly recently shattered them, announcing that in an NRL first-ever move, they would be representing a pride jersey for their all-important RD20 clash against Sydney to promote inclusiveness within the local community.

Yet sadly, the reported reactions of several Sea Eagles players and a myriad of ‘so-called’ supporters have dampened what was/still is such an incredible initiative from the club. Because the fact of the matter is, if you leave things, e.g., homophobia, as they are, they will either A; Stay the same or B; Deteriorate further, either of which cannot happen! Something as simple as rainbow colours on a jersey can go a long way towards solving the issue at hand, despite what many bigoted idiots seem to think.

No player should ever be forced into an uncomfortable situation or something they ultimately don’t want to do. In this event, they would wear the jersey for their clash on the Northern Beaches last Thursday night. And there’s a simple solution to all of this, stand down and don’t collect your pay! If you are genuinely steadfast that this goes against your beliefs (which in this case are seemingly ancient, to begin with) and don’t want to listen to your employers, that’s okay. Still, it would be best if you didn’t collect your pay cheque.

Jason Saab, Josh Aloiai, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula, Christian Tuipulotu and Toafofoa Sipley are those who boycotted the game. To them, I say put your money where your mouth is or shut up. No regular employer would even give you the time of day for this ridiculousness, so why should Manly?

The NRL is a competition rife with alcoholic beverages, companies and gambling agencies sponsoring them all over and Manly is undoubtedly no stranger to that. Where were those seven players’ reactions to constantly playing at their home venue of 4 Pines Park (a supposed sin), or the fact that there are several bars throughout the stadium? PointsBet (another supposed sin) meanwhile pours a heap of money into the club, yet somehow, they weren’t whinging then and were happy to accept their salaries. The irony is rife and simply too big to ignore. These players use religion as a pathetic excuse to disguise their homophobic and anarchical views. As a proud member of the Sea Eagles, I’m equally disgusted by it as saddened. If nothing else, what does this say to young, gay Rugby League players out there? Or, for that matter, athletes in general? It sends a horrific, saddening one, that’s for sure.

These players are FLOGS, and their views are incredibly intolerant of others. Never once have they spoken up about their ‘beliefs’ at any other time, but as soon as they have to be inclusive, they’ve thrown their toys out of the pram. These are grown men whom many consider role models for themselves or their children. They can feel free to never play another game for the club, and I strongly encourage them to do just that. Yet within an instance, all their credibility has sunk the drain. Manly is a family club, not some twisted, sad organisation filled with homophobes.

Meanwhile, if these athletes or these ‘joke’ fans knew even an ounce about how brave Ian Roberts was to come back in 1995, they might not be pulling this stunt. The players especially so, if they gave a rat’s arse about the integrity and image of the club, one that has already given them so much. Roberts played 100-games for the Sea Eagles and was Australia’s first openly gay Rugby League player. His bravery has helped inspire the Sea Eagles into what they are doing today, as well as many other individuals. From everything I’ve read, he is rightfully going to be in attendance for this momentous occasion.

However, just as disappointing as some of our players have been, Des Hasler is up there, too, as he is understood to be supporting the players’ decision to sit the game out. He is a Man who I once thought was full of integrity and a fair and honest bloke. But his backing of these intolerant views means he is no longer a credible man. Adding further salt to the wounds was that he played several seasons with Roberts and should understand better than most current/former players the difficulty it would’ve taken Roberts to do what he did.

To Sea Eagles officials and all those concerned at the club, please don’t back down and stay stronger than ever within this cause for justice. It is so important, and it only further reinforces why I, like many others, enjoy supporting the club week-in and week-out because Manly realises that this is about far more than just a game. And to those seven players, pull your heads in and represent the team with pride, not the blasphemy you’re spewing out!

Toby is somebody who is a knowledgeable and passionate sports fan, but none more than the NRL. From a young age, he has been covering and supporting Australia’s greatest code. He has diplomas in both sports and business, while he loves a good laugh, some good food and travelling.

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