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The Five-Letter Word That Will Make State Of Origin Players Boycott The Anthem

Several Indigenous players from both NSW and Queensland have indicated they'll remain silent during Advance Australia Fair at the State of Origin tonight.

"The anthem doesn’t represent us as Indigenous people. We have to change it," Melbourne Storm and NSW flyer Josh Addo-Carr said earlier this week.

"I'm not pushing my views on anyone, it's just how me and my family have grown up and how I feel," NSW five-eighth Cody Walker said of his boycott.

But what EXACTLY is wrong with the anthem in the eyes of these and other players?

Josh Addo-Carr. Image: Getty

If you talk to historians, the problems centre around the word "young" in the second line where it says "for we are young and free".

In the context of the song, young means young as a people, rather than literally young as individuals. It therefore implies that our civilisation is young. And this, clearly, cannot be said if you include Indigenous Australians as part of the "we".

"I think really the issue is that there is no recognition of anything before colonisation," historian and author David Hunt told 10 daily.

"I think that particular line sticks in the throats of anyone whose people have been here 60,000 years."

Will Chambers of Queensland will also not sing. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Hunt is the author of Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia and its follow-up True Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia Volume 2.

He explained that our national anthem was in fact penned in the 1870s, when Australia was a very different place, and that its author, the Scottish-born composer Peter Dodds McCormick, penned it on a horse-drawn bus.

The song's lyrics have changed over the years. It originally contained direct references to all Australians being British subjects and indeed referred to 19th-century Australians as "Britannia's sons".

The song was only adapted as Australia's anthem as recently as 1984, and the old Britannia references were long gone in the new version.

But its origins are fresh in the mind of a new generation of Indigenous Australians, who believe our national anthem should do more to include them.

Cody Walker. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Each player who chooses not to sing the anthem at the State of Origin tonight will no doubt have his own reasons. But at its essence, Indigenous protests over Australia's anthem are about the fact the song excludes them.

"Australians all" is not, in fact "all Australians", they would argue. And most historians would agree with them.

Historian David Hunt will present Aussie Inventions That Changed The World on The History Channel, starting June 24.