An impassioned Trent Robinson says his Sydney Roosters players would have no issue wearing a pride jersey as he advocated for the introduction of a Pride Round ahead of Thursday’s meeting with Manly.
- Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has supported Manly’s controversial jersey and advocated for an NRL Pride Round
- Robinson’s side will take on the undermanned Sea Eagles on Thursday night
- The triple premiership-winner remarked “to not be inclusive and not say ‘it’s OK to be who you are’ is unacceptable”
Robinson’s Roosters are the forgotten men in the opening game of round 20 at Brookvale Oval, where seven Manly players won’t play because of the rainbow stripes on their special occasion jersey.
The seven players — Jason Saab, Josh Aloiai, Tolutau Koula, Toafofoa Sipley, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster and Haumole Olakau’atu — have cited personal reasons as their cause for withdrawing from the game, which is critical for both sides’ final hopes.
Robinson spoke with gravitas on Wednesday and expressed his disbelief that sexuality was still an issue in 2022.
“I think it’s great what the owners of Manly have decided to do,” the three-time premiership-winning coach said.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s panned out this way, because everyone’s equal, no matter what.
“And for us, in 2022, to not be inclusive and not say, ‘It’s OK to be who you are’ is unacceptable.
“[Whether to have a Pride Round] is a decision for the club and the game to make, but my personal opinion is about equality.
“I want people to feel like they’re cared for, loved and have a place, no matter their sexual preference in the world.”
The two teams will contest the Gotcha4Life Cup, with sponsors making a way for the name of the charity, which supports mental health, to be emblazoned on both jerseys.
Robinson highlighted that suicide rates were high among young people, but even higher among young LGBTQI+ people.
“This is not about rugby league,” he said.
“This is a societal issue that’s been highlighted by our sport and other sports around the world.
“If someone said they weren’t going to wear the Indigenous jersey, there would be an outcry. [But] 40 years ago, that would not have been the case.
“And, 80 years ago, we wouldn’t have had a Women In League Round.
“We’ve moved on those fronts, and we haven’t moved on this. We need to move towards it at some point.”
A breakdown in communication between Manly’s commercial department and its football department has been cited as a key reason for the boycott.
Penrith captain Isaah Yeo said his teammates would be open to wearing pride jerseys or participating in a Pride Round but argued it would need to be considered rollout.
“The organization around it wasn’t ideal,” Yeo said of the fallout at Manly.
“They would need the players’ voices there [for a Pride Round].
“If they were to do that, they would need to be a bit of to-and-fro with the players, because I feel like it would be the same problem that is happening at Manly overall.
“I don’t think they’re the only team that would have that drama.
“There is a high religious [involvement] through all the teams, so I guess, if there was a problem there, it would be at other teams as well.”