Fuming Sea Eagles players reportedly sent angry text messages to each other after the decision of seven teammates to stand down from the club’s crucial Roosters clash.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the players demanded to know why the seven players in question put the Sea Eagles’ final hopes in danger over the pride jersey saga.
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With their season in danger of imploding, the Manly playing group then organized an emergency meeting on Sunday hoping to smooth things over and mend relationships ahead of the last five rounds of the regular season.
Reports suggest the squad relieved tensions prior to the group’s return to training.
The emergency meeting was reportedly sparked by a breakfast between Josh Aloiai, one of the players who boycotted the match, Jake Trbojevic, Lachlan Croker and another team member.
Aloiai alongside Tolutau Koula, Haumole Olakau’atu, Jason Saab, Josh Schuster, Toafofoa Sipley and Christian Tuipulotu refused to play on religious grounds, angering teammates.
The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield provided details on the crisis meeting on Big Sports Breakfast.
“The club brought in a professional mediator to get the group of players to get together to try and get a sympathetic understanding from both sides,” Rothfield said.
“I don’t think they’re ever going to agree on the fact that the players did the right thing by withdrawing from the match last week but what they want is for the players who did play to get a better understanding of what and why they did it.
“That’s why everything was put on the table yesterday and there were discussions.
“I was told late last week the risk amongst the players in the team was basically it was not reversible it was quite deep and the boys who did play and played very bravely against the Roosters could not comprehend why their teammates took such drastic actions.
“I think after they got together yesterday there is an understanding, I still think there’s a very long way to go before it is completely sorted out to a satisfactory position where they’re prepared to like all NRL clubs to have full time camaraderie and strengths and spirit.
“I think you can call it an uneasy trick between the players.”
It comes amid fears within the playing group that the pride jersey saga could continue next season after players denied they would be willing to don the kit in 2023.
“I’m certainly aware the playing group is getting together,” Manly chairman Scott Penn said on Big Sports Breakfast last week.
“It’s really important everyone gets together and just talks it through. There needs to be a ‘clear-the-air’ session which is perfectly normal in these circumstances.”
“There’s not a deep divide which has been reported but I think there is some frustration in terms of the way all this played out.
“I met with six of the seven – Josh (Aloiai) was injured and wasn’t training but I spoke to him a little bit later. They are very determined and they were put in a difficult position but there are absolutely no hard feelings at all. As I discussed with them at the time, their focus now is on Parramatta.
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“The seven were very clear in their view and religious beliefs and we totally respected that. They have copped it from certain circles and that is unfortunate because we didn’t ever want to put them in that position.
“We will see a very cohesive team for the next five weeks. It was an emotional week and the circumstances put everyone in a difficult position.”
Reports suggest the meeting was not to try and change views, but to clear the air and find a common group as to why the group stood down.
As it stands, the Sea Eagles sit in 10th place, one win behind the Roosters and Raiders.
Des Hasler’s side will face the Eels, Titans, Sharks, Raiders and Bulldogs to close out the season, and every game is a must-win encounter.