Australia anthem protest planned for Origin opener
Three indigenous players have said they will refuse to sing Australia’s national anthem at one of the country’s blockbuster sporting events on Wednesday — the State of Origin annual rugby league series.
Two New South Wales players and one from Queensland have said they will make a silent, respectful protest when “Advance Australia Fair” precedes the opening match in Brisbane.
Debutant Cody Walker said the century-old song does not represent him or his family.
“I’m not pushing my view on anyone, it’s just how me and my family have grown up and how I feel,” the New South Welshman told reporters. Teammate Josh Addo-Carr plans to follow suit.
Queensland’s Will Chambers hopes their actions will bring wider attention to an anthem many consider does not reflect the country’s indigenous heritage.
“It doesn’t represent us,” said Chambers. “If enough of us stand by and not sing, maybe one day there will be change and that’s all we can hope for.”
Reports said they had the support of teammates, coaches, and the National Rugby League.
Several players did not sing the anthem when the Australian Indigenous All-Stars met the New Zealand Maori Kiwis in Melbourne this year.
The song was written in 1878 and became the official national anthem in 1984.
Its description of a “young and free” country rests uneasily with Aboriginal Australians who have inherited the world’s oldest continuous culture, but have struggled with centuries of oppression since European colonisation.
– New faces –
Queensland had dominated the series with 11 wins in 12 years until New South Wales Blues turned the tables in 2018, winning the opening game in Melbourne 22-12 before sealing the series 18-14 in Sydney. The Maroons won the final match 18-12 in Brisbane.
So fierce is the interstate rivalry that a sex tape purportedly showing a New South Wales player went viral Monday in what the Blues called a “stitch-up” aimed at derailing their preparations.
Queensland go into the game without a host of retired greats, including Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.
“It may not be with the same players but it is the same jersey running out there on Wednesday,” said captain Dale Cherry-Evans.
“Make no mistake, we will be drawing on the inspiration from the older guys but it will be done a bit differently and there will be a lot of new faces.”
Three new players will be blooded — teenager David Fifita and fellow Brisbane Broncos forward Joe Ofahengaue, plus West Tigers utility Moses Mbye.
The Blues have named five debutants after a string of late injuries, including livewire South Sydney stand-off Walker, arguably Australian rugby league’s current best player.
With Adam Reynolds and Mitchell Pearce injured, Brisbane teenager Payne Haas, South Sydney’s Cameron Murray and Canberra pair Nick Cotric and Jack Wighton have also been given the nod for the first time.
The second match of the series will take place in Perth on June 23 with the final match in Sydney on July 10.
Queensland (1-17): Kalyn Ponga; Corey Oates, Michael Morgan, Will Chambers, Dane Gagai; Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans; Jai Arrow, Ben Hunt, Josh Papalii; Felise Kaufusi, Matt Gillett; Josh McGuire
Interchange: Moses Mbye, Joe Ofahengaue, Dylan Napa, David Fifita
Coach: Kevin Walters
New South Wales (1-17): James Tedesco; Nick Cotric, Latrell Mitchell, Josh Morris, Josh Addo-Carr; Cody Walker, Nathan Cleary; David Klemmer, Damien Cook, Paul Vaughan; Boyd Cordner (capt), Tyson Frizell; Jake Trbojevic
Interchange: Jack Wighton, Payne Haas, Cameron Murray, Angus Chrichton
Coach: Brad Fittler
Source : AFP