The Manly Sea Eagles have told the seven stars boycotting the club’s pride jerseys to stay away 4 Pines Park, after a top-level meeting between Manly and NSW Police.
Manly has sensationally banned their seven dissenting players from attending tonight’s big match at 4 Pines Park after a top level meeting with NSW police.
The exiled players were contacted after a joint phone call on Wednesday between Northern Beaches Police Crime Co-ordinator Sergeant Damon Flakelar, Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler, interim club chief executive Gary Wolman and Manly head of operations and events Shelley O’Malley.
During the discussion with Sgt Flakelar, Manly decided that the best course of action was to keep the players away from the ground on game night.
it could also be revealed at least one of the seven players has been subjected to threatening messages through social media.
Manly and police agreed there would be “heightened concern” should the players attend Brookvale Oval.
Police and the club also spoke about contingency plans for possible crowd misbehaviour.
“For the safety and wellbeing of the players, the club has decided that it’s best that they don’t attend the game,” Mr Wolman said.
Manly has been decimated after Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley withdrew from game in protest at the club’s controversial decision to wear a rainbow Pride jumper. Some of the potential back-up players also declined to play in the jersey.
The boycotting players were initially going to watch the match from the safety of a gymnasium in the Bob Fulton Stand’s Centre of Excellence because the dug-out, located near the players’ tunnel, was deemed too close to fans and unsafe. There were even fears protesters angry at the players’ stance could attempt to enter the ground and harass the seven stars.
Sgt Flakelar spoke with Manly head of operations and events Shelley O’Malley, expressing safety concerns before coach Hasler and Mr Wolman were brought into the conversation.
While Sgt Flakelar was on the phone call, the Manly trio agreed that the best course of action was for the players to stay away.
Hasler and Manly general manager of football John Bonasera contacted the seven players on Wednesday afternoon to tell them the news. It is understood the players wanted to attend the game but accepted the club’s decision.
Sgt Flakelar initially asked Mr Wolman and Hasler where the players would sit at the ground as part of plans to increase security at Brookvale to protect the players.
It comes as Aloiai fronted Manly administration staff, who have been vilified this week from some angry fans, to explain why he boycotted the game on religious grounds. Aloiai has told friends he has been targeted on social media while player managers have told the seven players to immediately report any threats to police.
Aware of the abuse some Manly administration staff had encountered from fans supporting the rainbow jersey, Aloiai attended the club’s Narrabeen headquarters to explain why he reached his decision. He spoke to staff administration for an hour.
Sea Eagles chairman and co-owner Scott Penn has been absent from the drama.
He is expected to arrive back from New York and plans to attend the match tonight.
NRLW player Karina Brown says she felt “enraged and frustrated” by the Manly Sea Eagles’ players’ refusal to wear a pride jersey. The World Cup winner, who was also the focus of a photograph that went viral in 2018 of her kissing then girlfriend Vanessa Foliaki, after a State of Origin match in Sydney, says she is astounded the players have taken their stance.
Speaking to Sam Squiers on the ‘On Her Game’ podcast, Brown revealed she felt “enraged” by the incident, going on to say: “It did trigger me, if I’m honest. I felt enraged and frustrated and then I decided to dig a bit deeper and find out the whole story … when I dug deeper I realised it’s not even a pride jersey which makes it even worse.
“This jersey is for everyone in league … whether you love someone of the same sex or whether you love Jesus Christ it says there’s a place for you in rugby league.
“To get upset about a jersey with a few extra colours, on the piping … I was astounded that was a stance that some players have taken.
“It’s just constantly frustrating.
“Because yes we are becoming more of a woke society.
“And the next generation they’ve got more of an open mind and open hearts.
“People are realising that discrimination is so hurtful in society and we’re trying to do something about it.
“It’s frustrating it still exists.’’