Cronulla prop Toby Rudolf has revealed his sexuality is fluid while backing the NRL’s idea of a yearly pride round.
Following a week of divisive conversation surrounding Manly’s decision to wear a rainbow strip on Thursday night, the 26-year-old said he fully supported ARLC chairman Peter V’landys’ idea for an NRL round to celebrate the LGBTQI+ community from 2023 onwards.
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“I haven’t got caught up in the Manly situation,” Rudolf told the SMH.
“What I will say is I was raised by quite a few gay and lesbian community members.
“My uncle is gay and my godmother is gay, and there’s so much love in that community.
“(My) sexuality is very fluid. I’ve been out and kissed many gay men, kissed many straight women and kissed many gay women.
“I’m not a one-stop shop. Love is love, and I love to share it with everyone.
“You could say I’m open to both genders but only attracted to one of them.”
Rudolf, who describes himself as heterosexual, made the powerful revelation after ARLC boss V’landys suggested pride round could start as soon as next year.
“Absolutely. We are very proud that we are a game for everybody,” V’landys said at the Women in League Round launch on Tuesday.
“That’s why I’m in this game, because I had a difficulty being accepted as a migrant and rugby league accepted me.
“It was inclusive back then and it is inclusive now. It’s important that every boy and girl and man and woman can go to the game and feel they can be treated the same as everyone else.”
Meanwhile, Manly boss Scott Penn has revealed he wants to speak with the NRL about introducing an inclusion round next season, confident all of his players would participate after a year of dialogue.
The Sea Eagles owner flew back into Sydney from the US on Thursday, before meeting with the seven Manly players who boycotted the 20-10 loss to the Roosters.
Top of Penn’s priorities is to ensure the Sea Eagles are unified with all players back to face Parramatta next week with the finals still a real possibility.
The Manly chair also issued a statement to the club’s fans, stating a review would be held into why all staff and players were not aware of the club’s rainbow jersey before it was released publicly.
But he makes no apologies for the jersey, stressing Manly wanted it to promote inclusivity for all, be it with race, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation.
Sea Eagles owners have also donated $100,000 to the Gotcha4Life charity, with money from the game going to support the mental welfare of the LGBTQI community.
Also on Penn’s agenda is speaking to the NRL about next year’s calendar, willing to cop the criticism of recent days if it results in long-term change.
ARLC chair Peter V’landys revealed this week he was open to the idea of a pride or inclusion round, stressing the decision was one for the commission.
Penn said he was fully behind the idea, hoping it was a positive to come out of a week of criticism and drama while also vowing to have an inclusion jersey again in 2023.
“We will take some learnings out of this, but the most important thing is we will be bigger and stronger next year,” Penn told AAP.
“We would like that to be with a game-wide initiative. We will be working with the NRL, obviously discussing how we can do it better.
“And then how we can do it better as a game.
“But I think what this week has done has brought us a lot closer to it than we were before. We were maybe shying away from it before.
“And if this conversation takes us further down the pathway to resolving it and hearing everyone’s opinions, then I think it is a great outcome.”
V’landys conceded this week some players could opt to skip such a round next year, stating that they had the freedom to do so if they did not agree with the NRL’s values.
Asked if he thought he would have a greater chance of getting his players involved after a year of conversation around it, Penn was adamant he could after also getting that indication from the players.
“Absolutely. It’s about mutual respect,” Penn said.
“And inclusiveness of everyone. Maybe we call it respect round. Or everyone in league.
“Maybe we didn’t get the label right this year. But in the end we have to move forward. And that’s my priority.”
Penn said he was first made aware of the initiative in April after the club was pitched by jersey designer Dynasty in February.
But the co-owner did not foresee the eventual issues with players, given it was marketed as an “everyone in league” jersey by the club.
“I was supportive of the concept because it was an everyone-in-league one,” Penn said.
“It was supporting Gotcha4Life with mental health, it was supporting other community groups, and I went absolutely I would support that.
“I think everyone internally who saw it, including some key people in the football staff, all went ‘that is a great initiative’.”
– With AAP