Paul Gallen has ripped into the Manly Sea Eagles for releasing a rainbow pride jersey.
The Sea Eagles are set to become the first club in rugby league history to wear an LGBTQIA strip during a professional match.
But the move didn't sit well with several of the players who subsequently threatened to boycott their games if they're forced to wear the 'Everyone in League' tops.
The controversy has left the wider rugby league community divided with some praising the club for driving inclusivity, while others have sided with the players for voicing their issues for religious purposes.
But NRL legend Gallen has made no secret of who he's backing.
Former Cronulla Sharks and New South Wales Blues skipper Gallen has blasted the Sea Eagles for taking the focus off Women in League round by releasing.
"I don't know why Manly did this. I don't know why they went to the extra step," he said while appearing on Channel 9's 100% Footy show.
"I mean, Women in League round is so important. Every single one of us have been touched by women at some stage in our life: your mother, your missus, something. So, I think Women in League round is so important."
Not just that, though, Gallen doesn't think the club should have to release a jersey in order to promote inclusivity at all – especially during Women in League round.
"I don't know why they had to go the extra step and wear the rainbow jersey or the pride jersey. I mean, it's 2022. I think everyone accepts that there are different people in life, people have different beliefs. I don't know why they wanted to promote this, to be honest... I don't think it's the right thing to do.
"I think Women in League round is so important. They just should have stuck with Women in League round and should have left it at that.
"It's 2022. We know people are different. I don't understand why they had to try to promote it.
"They should have just left it Women in League round, celebrate Women in League round, celebrate all the women in our lives and just get on with it."
The show's co-host Phil Gould also criticised the club's general handling of the situation.
"This is a misunderstanding from someone far removed from the football operation, in marketing and promotion and other things that they do, not understanding the cultural beliefs of some of their players," Gould said.
"Religion is very, very important to these people, and the beliefs of those religions, particularly the Pacific Island boys, and I guess they were probably just taken aback by it."
Featured Image Credit: Channel9/Instagram/manlyseaeagles
- Manly Sea Eagles staff member who warned club against rainbow jersey has now been sacked
- Manly Sea Eagles player Josh Schuster insists he doesn't regret refusing to wear the club's rainbow jersey
- Paul Gallen blames Manly's slump in form on the rainbow pride jersey saga
- Manly Sea Eagles player says his gay sister 'totally understood' his decision to not wear club's rainbow pride jersey