Origin stars double down on national anthem protest

Multiple players once again declined to sing the national anthem before Origin II kicked off.

Queensland centre Dane Gagai and NSW stars Cody Walker, Josh Addo-Carr, Jack Wighton and Payne Haas remained silent when the anthem was played in Game 1 at Adelaide Oval, and they repeated the dose again in Sydney on Wednesday night.

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It comes after Walker and Addo-Carr, as well as Latrell Mitchell, abstained from singing last year, sparking a major furore which bled into 2020 when the NRL attempted to scrap the national anthem from the series.

But the governing body of the competition backflipped, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison stepping in to ensure the anthem was played.

Speaking on former NRL player Denan Kemp’s podcast Bloke In A Bar earlier this month, Mitchell, who missed much of the second half of this season with injury, explained

his protest of Advance Australia Fair, saying the line “our home is girt by sea” is particularly difficult for him to accept.

“If you’re going to say nobody was here when you discovered it, then where were we?” Mitchell asked.

The debate around the national anthem has extended well beyond rugby league. Channel 9 star and Indigenous advocate Brooke Boney says the anthem needs to better acknowledge First Nations people.

“I get sick of having these discussions and people throw their toys out of the cot and we can’t have a mature and sensible reaction to our future as a nation,” Boney told Today.

“We’re not young and free when the government refuses to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14.

“We are not young and free when every kid in a Northern Territory juvenile facility is black.

“It doesn’t pay tribute to the fact that this is the home — all of us are a part of this incredible legacy of the oldest continuous culture of anywhere in the world. If we can’t recognise it in our anthem, then where can we recognise that?”

Boney’s comments come as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian threw her support behind changing the line “for we are young and free” to “for we are one and free”.

“I feel hurt for people who don’t feel that the national anthem includes them,” Ms Berejiklian told Channel 7’s Sunrise.

“We have a very proud Indigenous culture of tens of thousands of years on this continent, so to say we are young and free ignores that.

“I think it would be appropriate for us to acknowledge that we are all united and we have a very proud, long history of Indigenous First Nations here in Australia and I think that should be reflected in our anthem.”

“After the horrible year we’ve had, I just really appreciate as a leader how important it is to bring people together, how important it is to include our history in total and that’s why I’m supporting this one word change.”

The anthem has become a divisive talking point.Source:Getty Images

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