Addin Fonua-Blake will ask to attend a NSW anti-discrimination board meeting, as Manly coach Des Hasler vowed to help eliminate the word “retard” from the vocabulary.
Hasler issued a strong and sincere seven-minute apology on Saturday on behalf of the Sea Eagles, acknowledging Fonua-Blake had breached United Nations conventions.
The Manly coach said Fonua-Blake would ask to front a board meeting to apologise personally after the prop labelled referee Grant Atkins a “f–king retard” in last Sunday’s loss to Newcastle.
Fonua-Blake has already copped a $20,000 fine for breaching the NRL’s anti-vilification code, and a two-match ban for a contrary conduct charge.
He will miss Sunday’s clash with St George Illawarra, adding to Manly’s woes given it is already without the injured Tom Trbojevic and Dylan Walker.
Hasler said a formal apology would be sent to the Australian Human Rights Commission and Anti-Discrimination NSW.
But the veteran mentor said the most important outcome had to be in collective leadership in removing the word from use both in and outside of the game.
“The expulsion of its inappropriate and derogatory use from our vocabulary is critical in creating a civil society,” Hasler said.
“The word ‘retard’ is viewed by the those within the disability community as extremely offensive.
“Its removal is as important to the disability Community as the removal of inappropriate words to the Black community, the LBQTI+ and to our Australian First Nation peoples.
“Addin and the club acknowledge that the use of the term ‘retard’ has no place in today’s civil society.”
Manly will also bring in experienced rugby league executive Dirk Melton, who lives with autism, to address Fonua-Blake and the Manly players.
Both Fonua-Blake and players will also volunteer to assist people with a disability.
The club has made a point to hand out details on people with disability in Australia, as well as the disability royal commission that was established last year.
Hasler said he had been careful to monitor Fonua-Blake’s welfare through the week, as the pressure intensified on the 24-year-old.
“He’s been OK. It’s been tough on him. It’s certainly been a learning curve,” Hasler said.
“But let’s not disguise the fact it’s about the broader aspect here and people with a disability.
“We need to find a way to turn this into a positive going forward.”