Wests Tigers have issued an apology and agreed to re-design their commemorative Anzac Day jersey.
The Tigers were criticised for releasing a $160 jersey earlier this week which used a stock image of American soldiers rather than Australian servicemen.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Wests Tigers cop Anzac jersey heat as fans threaten protests.
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The jersey, which featured both the Australian and New Zealand flags, was due to be sold for the club’s round eight NRL game with Manly.
But the club was forced into a re-think after eagle-eyed fans spotted that the Tigers had used a stock image of American servicemen.
“As a club Wests Tigers is deeply sorry if the use of this image has in any way offended anyone,” the Tigers said in a statement.
“This was never our intention, and we are taking steps to rectify this.
“We have taken on board feedback from our members and fans, and we will be redesigning our 2023 commemorative jersey, immediately.
“Wests Tigers deeply regret any offence the use of this stock image may have caused and remains completely committed to honouring and respecting all those servicemen and women who have, and who continue, to serve.”
The joint-venture club says it will auction the re-designed jerseys off for veterans’ charity Legacy.
Prop David Klemmer fronted media and said the club had taken the right step by realising its mistake and vowing to re-issue an updated jersey.
“I don’t think the club went out of their way to make a jersey (that was disrespectful), or disrespect anyone or cause any harm,” Klemmer said.
“Their hearts were in the right place, they thought they were doing the right thing.
“The biggest thing we can do is acknowledge it, we’ve coughed one up.
“But the club has done the right thing to fix it.”
The bungle is the latest black eye for the Tigers, whose heavily hyped 2023 season is in turmoil.
The reigning wooden spooners are 0-5 to start the season before their Easter Monday meeting with Parramatta, and were thumped 46-12 by Brisbane last week.
In another blow for the struggling Tigers, fans have taken to social media to form a Facebook group — Wests Tigers Action Group — and are discussing holding a protest against the club during the match against the Eels.
A walkout by the fans during the game, fans standing and turning their backs on the field in the 11th minute — a reference to the number of consecutive years the Tigers have missed the finals — and handing out pamphlets demanding changes to the club are all forms of action being considered during the game.
“We (Wests Tigers) have been poor in terms of results for over a decade and nothing seems to change,” the Wests Tigers Action Group’s administrator Clint Schmeider told Wide World of Sports.
“The fans have had enough — I live in Newcastle and my kids won’t even come with me to Sydney to watch games anymore, which really hurts.
“They are sick of seeing us lose, and I really can’t blame them.
“This isn’t aimed at the players — it’s the people who run the club who need to be held accountable.”
Schmeider said the planned action by the fans will “be peaceful” and not over the top.
“The thing I want to emphasise though is whatever we do will be peaceful and orderly. No way will there be riots or anything like that,” Schmeider said.
“We just want to change the culture of the club because things just seem to be going from bad to worse.”
– With AAP
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