NRL Legend Mal Meninga Calls For Referendum On National Anthem, After All Stars Match
The Indigenous All Stars had a big win against the Maoris, but it is not the impressive scorecard that is making headlines.
Instead, it was a moment caught by cameras before kick-off , that has sparked a debate and renewed questions over our national anthem.
As the Australian national anthem echoed through the pitch, fans were quick to notice one thing most of the team had in common.
The majority of the Indigenous All Stars players lined up on the pitch, chose not to sing the national anthem as it played -- instead remaining silent.
And it was deafening.
The feeling couldn't have been more different on the other side however, as the New Zealand Maori team sang their own national anthem loudly, cheered on by the 18,000 strong crowd at Melbourne's AAMI Park.
Unlike the Australian anthem on Friday night, God Save New Zealand was sung in both English and the native Maori.
Indigenous All Stars captain Cody Walker and rugby league immortal Mal Meninga have since called for the national anthem to be changed, with Walker saying Advance Australia Fair does not represent him or his family.
Following their win, Walker told reporters the debate around the inclusiveness of the anthem was real and was something that needed to be addressed as a nation.
"It just brings back so many memories from what's happened and I think that's something as a group and everyone in Australia needs to, I suppose, get together and work something out," Walker said.
"[It] doesn't represent myself and my family".
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga weighed in, in an article written for NRL.com on Saturday.
"I can't see any reason why we can't ask all of Australia once again what is a true and contemporary song for Australia now," Meninga wrote.
"Let's have a referendum."
Meninga said Advance Australia Fair was selected by the Australian public as a national song by survey in 1974 and by plebiscite in 1977, before being officially enshrined as the national anthem in 1984.
He wrote it's now time to have another discussion.
"Times have changed since the last decision was made. We've had major decisions around Indigenous Australia, such as native title recognition and cultural heritage being revived.
During last season's Indigenous round, the national anthem was translated into a variety of local Indigenous languages and performed before kick off.
Earlier in the week, the NRL website reported that the anthem was set to be sung in the local Murundjeri language, but those plans were scuppered when it emerged that no translation existed.
All Stars coach Laurie Daley said it was a discussion worth having.
"But for us tonight it's probably not the right arena to discuss it," Daley added.
"For us its all about the game and that's something that we will have a chat about further down the track".
The match has reignited the debate about the national anthem just months after an emotional Anthony Mundine vowed to refuse to stand for the anthem if was played against his November clash with Jeff Horn.
Mundine broke down at the press conference as he slammed the anthem as a "white supremacist song".
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