EXCLUSIVE: The NRL is reeling from the news that more players will boycott games during Women In League round due to their personal convictions.
The players have followed the lead of the Manly Seven but are protesting gender equality instead of inclusion and diversity. Manly lost a vital game to the Sydney Roosters on Friday night after 7 of their starting players refused to wear a rainbow jersey, and are in danger of missing the top 8. The ensuing protests could see more teams miss out on finals footy.
The annual Women In League round pays tribute to all women involved in rugby league and promotes the rights of women in society in general, but this does not align with the personal values or past actions of the following players:
Addin Fonua-Blake: The Warriors strong man lost his contract with the Dragons in 2016 after pleading guilty to charges of domestic assault against his partner.
Matt Lodge: Lodge assaulted women before famously getting locked up in the United States. He was charged with eight counts of domestic violence against his then partner in 2015. He pleaded guilty to one and eventually had no conviction recorded with a good behaviour bond on appeal the following year.
Dylan Walker and Tigers forward Zane Musgrove don’t have a Wife Beater Tattoo from The Fronwlow Medal, but have both been charged with violence against women on more than one occasion – they just haven’t been found guilty.
Walker was expected to sit out the Roosters clash because he has been seen physically assaulting his partner on more than one occasion and has been to court due to the charges, but his partner has always found a reason to forgive him. Lodge also played in Friday’s game. When asked why he wasn’t protesting Women In League, he replied:
“What’s Women In League round?”
Api Koroisau (Panthers) and Jai Arrow (Rabbitohs) did battle in State of Origin 2021, the same year they did battle for the title of Partner of the Year. Both players cheated on their partners when they smuggled other women into their rooms during Origin camps, and as well as breaching strict COVID-19 biosecurity protocols, showed great disrespect to the women in their lives. Jack de Belin of the Dragons is another candidate for this title. He was found not guilty of sexual assault, but on that night had sex with a woman while his partner was at home carrying his unborn child. Meanwhile, Bryce Cartwright of the Eels won the title in 2017 when he used a ‘fixer’ to silence a young woman who gave birth to his child that he refused to help raise.
Bulldogs winger Jayden Okunbor earned his Frownlow nomination for sleeping with a schoolgirl after an official school visit with the Canterbury team, as did then teammate and current Raiders player Corey Harawira-Naera, who decided to share his love with a local teacher as well as a student.
Broncos forward Payne Haas pleaded guilty to two counts of intimidating police, including a female officer, in 2021, but his latest off-field combatant was one of his own teammates, so maybe he does believe in gender equality.
Sources inside various clubs have revealed that the following players are still deciding whether or not to boycott:
George Burgess (Dragons) was charged with sexual touching of a woman in 2022, and his case is still before the courts.
Anthony Milford (Knights) and Tui Kamikamica (Storm) were both charged with violence against women but found not guilty.
The NRL is about to learn what happens when their players collide with the real world.