Sea Eagles five-eighth Kieran Foran has thrown his full support behind the seven Manly players who boycotted last week’s NRL match against the Sydney Roosters.
Seven players opposed the rainbow colors on the pride jersey on religious and cultural grounds, choosing to stand down from last week’s clash at 4 Pines Park.
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Manly is fighting for a finals berth, but the 20-10 defeat to the Roosters may prove costly and keep them out of the top eight come season’s end.
The club has held crisis meetings in an effort to mend the rift among the playing group, but NRL pundits believe there’s a definite split in the ranks.
However, speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Foran was adamant the matter had been dealt with.
“We’ve moved past it,” he said.
“We’ve gotten together a number of times now and we’re focusing on the year ahead.
“I don’t really want to disclose those internal discussions. That’s for us as a club. I can say that they all went really well.
“Everyone took it on their shoulders. It was something that needed to be spoken about. We’ve dealt with it, and we’re able to move forward now.”
Asked if he was disappointed in the seven teammates who withdrew from the Round 20 contest, Foran immediately replied: “No.”
“That’s their holds, that’s their decision, and we understand that,” he continued.
“It was an emotional week. There’s no denying that. Everyone played a role in that.
“They’ve been some of our best players all year, they’ve done a tremendous job throughout the season. They’re a vital part of this footy side. They’re our brothers.
“They come straight back in, and we get ready to go on Friday.
“I was more than happy to put on the jersey, but that’s my belief systems and I’m comfortable with that.”
But not everyone is convinced the Manly pride jersey saga has drawn to a close.
The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield told the Big Sports Breakfast earlier this week: “I was told late last week the rift among the players and the team was not reversible, it was quite deep.
“And the boys who did play, and played quite bravely against the Roosters, could not comprehend why their teammates took such drastic action.
“I think after they got together yesterday, there is a better understanding. I still think there’s a very, very long way to go before it is completely sorted out to a satisfactory position where they’re prepared to have full team camaraderie and strength and spirit.”
Dean Ritchie, also of The Daily Telegraphtold the same Sky Sports radio show: “There is divisions at Manly and anyone who tells you there is not is telling a fib.
“The players that played were dirty on the players that didn’t play.
“They are trying to sort it out and understand each other’s religious beliefs and views, but there is division there.
“You speak to one player and he will say we can move forward from this and you speak to others who say this is going to take a lot longer.”
According to a report from Wide World of Sportsone Manly player — who wished to remain anonymous — is still fuming at the pride jersey saga.
“They (the seven) are still saying they weren’t consulted about the pride jersey and it went against the religious a cultural beliefs,” the player told Nine.
“We weren’t consulted when a betting sponsor was placed on our jersey — the guys wear that every week … I’m not sure what their God would say about that.
“No one asked us when our oval was renamed after a brewery (4 Pines Park) — I don’t think their God would have been crazy about that either.
“And I can tell you very few young blokes in our club live by the 10 Commandments — nor most young blokes in Australia for that matter.
“Yet these guys take a stance over a good move by the club to make the gay community feel inclusive in our game.
“They could have said they didn’t support the initiative but to refuse to play with their mates, it doesn’t sit well, and there is something of a rift in the group as a result.
“If those two lost points — and we are confident we would have won (against the Roosters) — cost us a place in the finals, it will take a long time for us to get over it.”
The Sea Eagles will next face the Parramatta Eels at 4 Pines Park on Friday evening, with kick-off scheduled for 7.55pm AEST.