Manly Sea Eagles player says he doesn't regret refusing to wear the club's pride jersey
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Manly player Josh Schuster says he has no regrets in refusing to wear the club’s pride jersey last season.
It was the saga that derailed Manly’s season after seven of the Sea Eagles players opted to sit out of their clash with the Roosters in Round 20.
The team was set to wear kits donning rainbow-coloured stripes in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, however, a bunch of players declined.
They cited their religious and cultural beliefs as the main factors behind their decision.
None of the seven have spoken about the saga, however, Schuster was pressed on the matter when speaking on former coach Des Hasler being sacked.
When asked by Nine whether he had 'no regrets’, the 21-year-old responded: “Yeah, definitely. Like I said before, my personal beliefs and faith come first.”
The controversy clearly had a detrimental impact on Manly’s season as they went on to lose their remaining games of the 2022 season.
They finished outside the top eight, which ultimately led to the sacking of Des Hasler by the club last week.
It was a decision, that, despite all the drama of the season, took Schuster aback.
He told Nine: “It actually shocked me a bit. He still talks to me here and there just to make sure I'm still training ... but the main focus is he wants me to get ready for pre-season [training].”
He added: “I think throughout his whole coaching [career] his main aspect was player welfare; he cares about the person.”
Since the rainbow jersey fiasco, there have been reports of friction in the Manly locker room.
Hasler’s sacking only served to fuel such ideas, with speculation persisting about the squad morale of the players.
However, Schuster maintains the team is as close-knit as ever.
He continued: “We are a tight bunch, believe it or not.
“[Despite] everything that's happened this year, we're still close, we still keep in touch.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Hasler is now considering a $1 million lawsuit against the club over the decision to implement the pride jersey without consultation with himself or the football department.
The 61-year-old was set to trigger an automatic contract extension for the 2024 season if the team reached the top six in 2022.
However, the newspaper reports he believes the team’s fall in form was directly attributed to the pride jersey controversy, prohibiting him from fulfilling his contractual obligations.