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A former rugby league player has hit out against the 'Manly 7' who are refusing to wear their club's pride jersey.
Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley are boycotting tonight's (July 28) match against the Roosters.
The Sea Eagles will be the first NRL club to have a pride jersey, however the big moment has been marred in controversy because of the seven players who say the inclusivity message goes against their religion.
There have been a lot of comments and opinions on whether the players are in the right or wrong in this situation.
One of the many people to have thrown their two cents in on the matter is former rugby league player Keegan Hirst.
In 2015, he was the first British professional rugby league footballer player to come out as gay.
Reacting to the decision of the Manly 7, Hirst pointed out the glaring hypocrisy of the group standing against LGBTQIA+ people but seemingly not having a problem with their sponsors.
"I’d be interested to hear what which religious and cultural beliefs stop you wearing a shirt with a rainbow on but not one that promotes gambling etc," he wrote on Twitter.
Hey @SeaEagles, I’d be honoured to wear your Pride shirt. As should all your players.— Keegan Hirst (@KeeganHirst) July 26, 2022
Shame on the ones who aren’t.
He added: "Hey @SeaEagles, I’d be honoured to wear your Pride shirt. As should all your players. Shame on the ones who aren’t.
“The ironic thing about the @SeaEagles Pride/player boycott saga is that I know what goes on in RL changing rooms.
"And a lot of it would be seen as being MUCH ‘gayer’ than a rainbow on a jersey.”
While there's nothing suggesting the Manly 7 have been involved in any of those alleged changing room antics, it would be interesting if they took a stand against it if it ever happened.
Hirst also used his platform to explain the difference in this situation, as it's essentially a battle between religious beliefs and being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“Being gay isn’t a belief. A belief is a choice," he said.
"Religion and the aspects of it that practice is a choice. If religious beliefs meant someone wouldn’t play with Black players, would we say ‘it’s their religion, it’s OK’. No, we wouldn’t. Discrimination is discrimination.”
He added: "Representation matters. What does it mean to gay kids who want to play rugby? They’ve just been shown that they wouldn’t be accepted by their peers.
"Which the sport isn’t as inclusive as it likes to think it is. Symbolism matters. If it didn’t, those players wouldn’t care."
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