Manly Sea Eagles press conference live, LGBTQIA, pride jersey, seven players decline, which players, cock game, Ian Roberts

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and rugby league boss Peter V’landys, coach Des Hasler and captain Daly Cherry-Evans spoke about the controversy surrounding Manly as they gathered to confront the media AEST this afternoon.

Seven players will miss the Sea Eagles game against the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night following the club’s decision to wear the distinction kit.

Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley are not participating at this time after stopping for spiritual reasons.

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Sea Eagles owner Scott Penn said the club will continue with LGBTQIA gear on Thursday, even if it means addressing a weak spot in a game that could have big payoffs on their final chances.

V’Landys criticized the club for not consulting the players before saying they would wear the Distinction kit, but said it respected the wishes of the players.

“I respect the choice of players, they have spiritual and cultural differences and that’s the fantastic thing about Australia, we all have those freedoms,” V’Landys said.

“But let me just say this, one thing I’m happy about in rugby league is that we treat everyone the same, we’re all human, it doesn’t matter what color you are, what your sexual orientation is. No matter your race, we are all equal and we will never go back to including our sport.

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“But at the same time we can’t disrespect those players’ freedoms and so they have that freedom and I respect that if they don’t need to play, but they’re well aware of our coverage of the inclusion.

“Manly may have handled it better, they may have been a lot more collaborative with the players, they must have worshiped the players, not just thrown at them.

“He manly admits they shouldn’t get it on them.”

Albanese advised his friend and manly legend Ian Roberts, who became the first NRL player to come out as gay again while attending the club in 1995.

“He showed incredible bravery,” Albanese said.

“He was not the first gay man to play in rugby league… He was the first to dare to point this out. And it paved the way for others to do so.

“It’s essential in Australian society that we respect everyone for who they are.”

Coach Des Hasler and captain Daly Cherry-Evans will appear earlier than the press at 12:00 p.m. AEST.

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