Manly accept lessons for NRL unity

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Manly players insist they can emerge out of their rainbow jersey crisis stronger, with Jake Trbojevic explaining how he came to understand and accept teammates' reasons for last week's boycott.

Five of Manly's seven boycotting players will return in Friday night's NRL clash against Parramatta, which is almost a must-win match for the 10th-placed Sea Eagles.

Players have met several times since last Thursday's boycott and 20-10 loss to the Sydney Roosters, including a lengthy player-driven discussion at the club's headquarters on Sunday.

All players who fronted the media on Wednesday were adamant they were now a united group, after at first having questions about the decision for the group to sit the match out.

Trbojevic admitted he initially had trouble understanding the boycott on religious grounds, but was now accepting and respectful of the group's position.

"We really grew as a group from it. I know I did," Trbojevic said.

"It was nice to talk to the guys and get a clear understanding that we all come from different backgrounds with different beliefs and upbringings.

"Their No.1 thing is probably God, and ours is footy. So it is about respecting each other's beliefs and we'll move forward together.

"My No.1 thing is footy so at first it was hard to comprehend ... until they explained it.

"Now I am really comfortable with it ... and I respect what they did."

Trbojevic was among the first to meet with any of the boycotting players over the situation, sitting down for a coffee with fellow forward Josh Aloiai last week.

But he was not confident the club would be able to pursue its plan of wearing the inclusivity jersey next year without similar problems, or that the NRL could go ahead with a Pride round as discussed.

"I honestly don't know (if it could be done without having similar issues). But going on this year ... I don't know.

"It probably would (be difficult) based on how it went this year. But I am not really sure."

Players have conceded last week was an emotional blur, while the likes of Lachlan Croker were left chasing the news online and watching Des Hasler's press conference from home while in COVID-19 isolation.

But they were adamant the returning players could help spark a finals run, with all bar the injured Aloiai and omitted Josh Schuster to play on Friday night.

"They have been some of our best players all year," five-eighth Foran said.

"They have done a tremendous job throughout the season. They are our brothers and they come straight back in.

"We have moved past it. It has been dealt with. We're definitely united."

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