Several State Of Origin Players Stand Silent In Australian Anthem Protest
A number of Indigenous State of Origin players have taken part in a silent protest ahead of Game One, refusing to sing the national anthem at Suncorp Stadium.
Following a Welcome to Country by NRL great Johnathan Thurston, at least four players stood in silence as Lucy Maunder sang Advance Australia Fair.
NSW stars Cody Walker, Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell, as well as Queensland player Will Chambers, announced their intention to boycott the anthem last week, saying the song's lyrics do not represent them.
After taking the field on Wednesday night, Walker, Addo-Carr and Mitchell stood arm-in-arm, staring silently ahead while teammates sang along next to them.
Over in the Queensland line-up, Chambers did the same.
NSW Origin debutant Payne Haas also appeared to remain silent during the anthem, as did Queenslanders Josh Papalii, Dane Gagai, Kalyn Ponga and Dylan Napa.
"The anthem doesn’t represent us as Indigenous people. We have to change it," Addo-Carr said of the boycott 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," Walker said.
At the heart of the protest are the lyrics "young and free", which players say disregards 60,000 years of Indigenous history pre-European settlement.
“We aren’t young and free,” Mitchell said on Friday.
“We’re the longest-living culture in the world.”
Walker began the movement at February's Indigenous All Stars match against New Zealand.
After standing in silence for the anthem, the Origin debutant told reporters he felt uncomfortable singing the song which "does not represent him or his family".
At the time, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga stood by Walker's decision and called for a referendum on the subject.
Wednesday's protest reignited a conversation about re-wording the anthem -- a move Liberal MP Craig Kelly and Labor's Tanya Plibersek got behind ahead of Origin One.
"These words of our national anthem are not something carved in stone," Kelly told ABC radio, suggesting the words "young and free" could be changed to "strong and free".
"Let's sing, 'We are strong and free' and let's all get on and make sure we are, as the anthem says, Australians all."
However, Kelly -- a conservative MP who has opposed other social changes including same-sex marriage -- does not support the anthem boycott, telling The Project on Wednesday night politics should be left off the football field.
The Origin protests had the support Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans, who is non-Indigenous.
"Hopefully this sort of stuff does start conversations," Cherry-Evans told the media this week.
"Not just in sports but around the country, around what we believe can make the country a better place."
Advance Australia Fair was originally written by Scottish-born composer Peter Dodds McCormick in 1878.
It was not officially adopted as Australia's national anthem until 1984, after all lyrics with direct references to Brittania or Australians being British subjects were removed.