Seven Manly Sea Eagles players will boycott their NRL match against Sydney Roosters on Thursday because the team will wear a rainbow jersey.
Manly coach Des Hasler has confirmed that players will sit out the match but has not revealed who they are, with none yet to publicly say they are boycotting or explain their decision.
The club will still continue to wear the one-off shirt, which features the pride rainbow colours in place of their usual white stripes, to “represent diversity and inclusion for all”.
But Hasler has apologised for the “poor” execution of the initiative and the “little consultation or collaboration” involved, with players not included.
He added that the players have refused to wear the shirt because “it conflicts with their cultural and religious beliefs”.
However, Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans said that he would be “proudly wearing the jersey to try to endorse inclusiveness and diversity”.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys has defended the players’ right to boycott.
“Those players are taking a stand and they’ve got every right to – they’ve got freedoms to do so, we live in a free country,” he told Radio 2GB.
“But as far as the game is concerned, we pride ourselves on being inclusive.”