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The wife of cross-code footy superstar Israel Folau has taken aim at Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys over his response to the Manly pride jersey furore.
The story has dominated the sporting headlines this week after seven Manly players decided they would stand down from Thursday night's game against the Roosters, in protest against wearing a specially designed inclusive jersey, featuring a rainbow design.
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Manly's boycotting players have cited cultural and religious beliefs as the reason why they are opposed to wearing a design synonymous with the LGBTQI community.
The scandal has many similarities to Folau's infamous legal dispute with Rugby Australia (RA), after he was sacked for posting anti-gay messages on social media.
Members of the Sea Eagles squad will wear the league's first pride jersey on Thursday night, with the seven boycotting stars asked to stay at home to ensure their safety.
ARLC chairman V'landys said this week that Manly made a huge mistake in not consulting its playing group before pushing ahead with plans to play in the special strips.
However, the league boss said he understood the decision from the seven boycotting players, and insisted that their cultural and religious beliefs needed to be respected.
“The game prides itself on treating everyone as a human being, no matter what their race, colour or sexual orientation,” he told 2GB. “We’re all human beings at the end of the day.
“Rugby league is the greatest game for all. It’s inclusive.
“But at the same time you have to respect people’s religious beliefs and cultural beliefs. Those players are taking a stand and they’ve got every right to – they’ve got freedoms to do so.”
The comments have since been pounced upon by Maria Folau, who accused V'landys of being a hypocrite, considering he and the NRL blocked Israel from returning to the NRL after his contract with Rugby Australia was terminated.
Folau posted on her Instagram stories: “‘We’re all human beings at the end of the day’... Umm so what’s Izzy??....A donkey?
“The hyspocrisy (sic.) from this man and this organisation @nrl #PeterVlandys What a joke!!!!”
Manly forced into huge reshuffle for Roosters match
Manly coach Des Hasler said he personally supported the jersey, with the club making the call to push ahead with plans to wear it, despite opposition from the seven players.
Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau'atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley are all sitting out the Roosters match, in a significant blow to Manly's finals hopes.
In their place, Manly have picked two rookie wingers in Pio Seciand Alfred Smalley, while also ending James Segeyaro's three-year NRL exile and recalling Kurt De Luis, Morgan Boyle and Ethan Bullemor.
"Personally I share the views that are inclusiveness across the game and society," Hasler said.
"It is an important matter and the NRL is for everyone.
"In this specific instance I also feel for these players. They were not included in the discussions around the jersey.
"At a minimum they should have been consulted."
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