Manly pride jersey, Des Hasler confirms seven players unavailable for selection, says club made a “significant mistake”

Manly coach Des Hasler has given a passionate apology for the club’s botched “execution” of its pride jersey, which he described as a “significant mistake”.

Hasler has confirmed seven players will sit out Thursday’s match against the Roosters, but said it would be “inappropriate” to reveal their names. Manly’s squad for the match will be announced on Tuesday afternoon, with Hasler promising a side “that will be competitive.”

He said he accepted the players’ decision to sit out the match and said there will be an “internal review” to establish what went wrong.

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“We are here today to apologize for a significant mistake made by the Manly club,” Hasler said.

“The change to our traditional jersey was the application of the rainbow colours. The intent was to represent diversity and inclusion to embrace all groups who feel marginalized and face discrimination.

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“Sadly, the execution of what was intended to be an extremely important initiative was poor.”

Hasler said the players were not included in discussions around the decision to wear the jersey. He pointed to club management as the source of the issue that led to the farcical situation the Sea Eagles now find themselves in.

“There was little consultation or collaboration with key stakeholders, both inside and outside the club,” he admitted.

“This poor management has caused significant confusion, discomfort and pain for many people, in particular those groups whose human rights we were attempting to support.

“We have even adversely impacted our playing group, a wonderful group of people comprising many different racial and cultural backgrounds.

“We wish to sincerely apologize for the mistakes we have made.

“Our intent was to be caring and compassionate towards all groups who face inclusion issues daily. Instead of enhancing tolerance and acceptance, we may have hindered this. This was the opposite of our intent.

“I truly hope that the communities, the NRL, our players and our staff can accept our apology.”

Hasler said the club had discussions with the NRL about whether or not to withdraw the jersey, but will wear it on Thursday against the Roosters.

He said the club must embrace former Sea Eagles forward Ian Roberts, the first openly gay rugby league player.

“I personally played with Ian Roberts, and wholeheartedly admire his contribution to the game. He was an ornament. He is a great man, and a great citizen of our society. The role he has played at our club, the NRL and the community cannot be understated,” Hasler said.

“We must continue to seek out his guidance and opinions.

“While we have come a long way as a society, there is still much work to be done, particularly in education, and that includes the NRL.”

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