NRL 2022: Sea Eagles will let NRL organise pride round, new coach Anthony Seibold fronts media for first time

Sea Eagles chief executive Tony Mestrov says any call involving a possible Pride Round next year and beyond will be made by the NRL following this season’s fiasco that ruined Manly’s finals push and ultimately cost Des Hasler his job.

Seven Sea Eagles players refused to wear the rainbow jersey and chose to boycott the club’s round 20 game against the Roosters over religious and cultural beliefs.

The team lost that night and didn’t win another game as they missed out on the finals, and the constant bickering and unrest eventually cost club legend Hasler his job.

The biggest issue according to Mestrov was a lack of transparency between the club and the players, who were upset that they weren’t consulted beforehand.

It’s why the Sea Eagles won’t commit to wearing the jersey again in 2023 even though it was one of the hottest items at the ground that night and sold out online.

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“If there’s any overarching initiatives, they’ll be run by the NRL. We’ve been in discussion with the NRL, and any initiative will be put forward by them, not us,” Mestrov said.

“We’ve got nothing further to add about us organising a Pride Round or a Rainbow Round.

“The NRL will do the consulting. They will speak to the RLPA and the players and so on rather than a club itself. It works much better that way, we feel.

“I wasn’t here at the time, but from the people who do know me being here now, it’s about communication. There’s no way that for any reason the players shouldn’t have been communicated to.

“From day one since I got here – I don’t profess to be the coach – (my mantra has been) clear communication from everyone in the organisation, including the players.

“If we can do that in the future, whatever it might be, everyone knows where they stand.

“I think that’s the most important part about this club moving forward, including the local community, the local sponsors and the local juniors. We should communicate clearly, and we’ve got a clear direction here as well.”

New coach Anthony Seibold was asked if he thought the club should wear the jersey again next year.

“That’s not for me to talk to at this point of time. That would create a headline, which would be good for everybody,” he said.

“One thing I do know about any situation that occurs is that education and communication are key. It certainly hasn’t seemed to be a problem in the very short time (I’ve been here) communicating with the group.”

Players have indicated that they would stand down again if the club decided to wear the rainbow jersey, and several of them explained their decision while in England for the World Cup.

“I think it was important that they cleared the air and that we gave them the freedom to do that to express themselves and what they felt,” Mestrov said.

“That’s done and we can now get on with the most important thing and what we’re here for, which is winning football games. Anthony is here now, there’s a clean slate and we’re here to win football games.”

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