Polynesian Leader Says It's Ironic NRL Players Are Boycotting Pride Jersey
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A Polynesian leader has hit back against the seven Manly Sea Eagles players who are boycotting wearing the pride jersey during this week's match.
The NRL club was thrown into crisis meetings when the players revealed they won't be playing if they had to wear a new top that has rainbow lines on it.
Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula and Toafofoa Sipley are the players who won't be running onto the field for the game tomorrow (July 28) against the Roosters.
They cited cultural and religious grounds as the reasons for the boycott.
However, Frank Puletua, a former Penrith Panthers, Souths Rabbitohs and Samoa Test prop, said the boys need to have a rethink about their culture.
“I don’t believe homophobia is ingrained in Polynesian culture and it’s not something that is intrinsic in Pacific culture, put it that way," he said to The Daily Telegraph.
“We actually have a strong gay element in Polynesian communities.
"That’s where the irony and disappointment is for me.
He added: "I know our culture and I know how intertwined it is with religious beliefs.
"Our attitudes are deeply embedded in the way we conduct ourselves and the way that we practise our traditions and culture.
"It is very hard to delineate between the two, which makes it very challenging in this day and age."
Puletua said we all need to 'embrace diversity' and has called on other NRL clubs to introduce pride jerseys to send a message to the LGBTQIA+ community that they are included and seen.
He explained how disappointed he was to see the seven Manly players who are boycotting the jersey, which he said the majority of which are Polynesian.
“It’s quite disappointing to see it has created this much conflict," he said. “I actually love the idea of a pride jumper. It’s fantastic."
He's put his hand up to help educate the Sea Eagles players on how to celebrate other people.
“I am a strong supporter of people having a view and being able to share that view, but when it affects a certain sub-set of our community and society, that’s when it spills over to the point where there must be more education and community support," he said.
The Manly Sea Eagles will be the first NRL club in history to have a pride jersey when the players march out onto the field for their crucial match against the Roosters.
Featured Image Credit: NRL/YouTube. Manly Digital