LEBANONSEN­SE

Cedars take stand in protest over do­mes­tic board

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NRL - MICHAEL CARAYANNIS

LE­BANESE play­ers will take the ex­tra­or­di­nary step of tap­ing over the Le­banese Rugby League Fed­er­a­tion logo when they take to the field against Fiji on Satur­day.

The move is led by some of the Cedars’ high­est pro­file play­ers, in­clud­ing Rob­bie Farah, Josh Man­sour, Tim Mannah, Mitchell Moses and Michael Lichaa as the angst be­tween the game’s best play­ers against the gov­ern­ing body in Le­banon grows.

The fall­out has con­tin­ued from the 2017 World Cup when play­ers grew frus­trated at the Le­banese board for fail­ing to cap­i­talise on the team’s suc­cess in the tour­na­ment.

Play­ers boy­cotted last year’s mid-year Test but fears they would be stripped of their World Cup sta­tus will see them re­turn to the field this week.

While they are keen to rep­re­sent the Cedars again they will do so un­der protest against the cur­rent board.

Farah, whose com­mit­ments with the Wests Tigers in Townsville pre­vented him from stand­ing along­side the likes of Moses and Man­sour for a photo, backed the stance.

“We are all so proud to rep­re­sent the Cedars,” Farah said. “The 2017 World Cup was one of the high­lights of my ca­reer. But as a play­ing group we can't sup­port what is hap­pen­ing to the game in Le­banon. We want the game to grow and pros­per and we stand along­side those do­mes­tic play­ers in de­mand­ing change.

“We are tak­ing this ac­tion be­cause we don't sup­port the cur­rent board and the way it was elected. We want what's best for the long-term fu­ture of the game in Le­banon.”

Rick Stone will coach the Cedars for the first time when the team heads into camp to­mor­row.

The tur­moil has been on­go­ing since the end of the 2017 World Cup.

Long-term Cedars player turned player rep­re­sen­ta­tive Chris Saab wrote a let­ter to the Le­banese Rugby League Fed­er­a­tion last March call­ing for their res­ig­na­tion on be­half of the Cedars play­ing group. Saab said the NRL stars are sup­port­ing lo­cal play­ers in Le­banon whose do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tion has come to a halt be­cause of the in­fight­ing.

Saab has again called on the board to stand down.

“We have all lost con­fi­dence in them,” Saab said. “The lo­cal play­ers are boy­cotting the com­pe­ti­tion. All we want is a fair elec­tion and they’ve de­nied it. An elec­tion in Fe­bru­ary was un­demo­cratic and no­body is buy­ing it.

“Not one do­mes­tic cham­pi­onship game has been played since as the do­mes­tic play­ers are still in boy­cott, how­ever the fed­er­a­tion is telling peo­ple oth­er­wise.

“That’s why we don’t sup­port them. The boy­cott would’ve con­tin­ued but if we were to do that we would’ve set Le­banon rugby league back 10 years. We went from play­ing Test matches at lo­cal parks to be­ing in­vited to play on the big­ger stages.

“The boys in Le­banon de­serve to have a com­pe­ti­tion run­ning. We are all united here.”

There will be a fan day at Bev­erly Hills Park on Tues­day from 4.45pm.

“We stand along­side those dome stic play­ers in de­mand­ing change Rob­bie Farah

Pic­ture: Brett Costello

Le­banese rugby league play­ers Michael Lichaa, Ab­bas Miski, Josh Man­sour, Mitch Moses and Adam Doueihi make a united stand.

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