Wests Tigers caught out in alleged 'lie' amid Anzac NRL jersey furore

The embattled NRL club has been accused of lying about the controversial issue.

Pictured right is Paul Kent and the left image shows the Wests Tigers' commemorative Anzac jersey.
Paul Kent claims the Australian Defence Force was not consulted by the Wests Tigers about their commemorative Anzac jerseys. Pic: Wests Tigers/Fox League

The Wests Tigers have been accused of lying about collaborating with the Australian Defence Force when designing a commemorative Anzac jersey to honour the nation's servicemen and women. The embattled NRL club - winless in 2023 and facing numerous on-field and off-field issues to start the new season - found themselves at the centre of fresh furore this week.

The Tigers unveiled special jerseys that they plan to wear for their clash with Manly in round 8, taking place two days before Anzac Day. However, the Wests Tigers jersey design sparked uproar when it was revealed the image of the soldiers and the helicopter on the front of the shirt were actual American, rather then Australian.

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Fans and commentators across the NRL world slammed the Tigers for the "embarrassing" oversight, with the club claiming the jersey was designed in conjunction with the Holsworthy Army Barracks in Sydney "who have sighted and approved all collateral relating to the release of this jersey." The club added: “The soldiers on the jersey simply depict the modern-day soldier serving in a desert environment.

However, NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent challenged the club's version of events, claiming he spoke to representatives from the Holsworthy Army Barracks, who denied they were consulted about the controversial image. Kent said he sought clarification from the Defence Force for a statement and they revealed no one from Holsworthy Barracks had spoken to the Tigers.

“What has happened today is the Tigers have withdrawn the jersey from sale following the outrage and the disrespect they have shown to the Anzac tradition," Kent said on NRL 360. “They put out a statement saying they regret any offence it may have caused and they also said they have a new jersey coming in, which will properly symbolise the Anzac tradition.

“Now in the meantime I have spoken to the Defence Force, who have said to us that they were not consulted by the Tigers, as opposed to what the Tigers said yesterday. That they did not supply any images to the Tigers. They do have images available if they are sought after, but they were not.

“The Tigers simply went and got a stock image off the internet, designed the jersey themselves and sent it off to Steeden who printed the jersey up. There is also a suggestion in the statement yesterday that it was purchased under the license of the official apparel partner. That’s not true. It was sent to Steeden by the Tigers. So the Tigers are a little bit slippery with their version of events today.”

The Wests Tigers' commemorative jersey depicts American soldiers on the front, rather than Australians. Image: Wests Tigers
The Wests Tigers' commemorative jersey depicts American soldiers on the front, rather than Australians. Image: Wests Tigers

Wests Tigers accused of lying about Anzac jerseys

Kent's NRL 360 co-host Dan Ginnane said it was a terrible look from the Tigers to be caught out on an apparent "lie" around Anzac Day. “We originally thought it was incompetence, but you do not lie when it comes to this part of society,” Ginnane said. “When you are dealing with the Army and Diggers and people that have served. This is very dangerous territory where this is going.”

The fresh furore comes after a tumultuous start to the season, with questions arising about coach Tim Sheens after the club fell into an 0-5 hole. CEO Justin Pascoe has also drawn unwanted headlines, while fullback Daine Laurie drew the ire of fans by 'liking' a video of a try scored against the Tigers by the Broncos.

Kent says the Anzac controversy is merely another example of the incompetency of the NRL club's administration. “It is dangerous and I think it is symbolic of a lot of things that are happening at the club as far as their attention to detail and what they believe people should know,” Kent said.

“Their version of events, I think they initially got caught out where they realised they had the wrong image on the jersey. They have tried to move away from that and not link it to ANZAC day. The Diggers are in outrage because it is an Anzac jersey. It is not Remembrance Day. It is not remembrance of all soldiers. It is the Anzac legend. It is the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp.

“The image they found was online and put together by somebody in Iran of all places. The Tigers are still not being forthcoming with what happened. I think they have tried to massage and minimise the damage around this and unfortunately for them because of the delay in getting things confirmed it has come back to bite them.

“The Defence Force has shot down what was basically their last straw of hope that they had collaborated with Holsworthy Army Barracks, which the Defence Force said they clearly did not.”

The explosive saga saw the Wests Tigers forced into issuing an apology, with the club announcing it will re-design the commemorative jersey for Anzac Day.

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