Indigenous stars back anthem axe
The entire Indigenous All Stars team wants the Australian national anthem scrapped from next year's exhibition match.
Gold Coast Titans captain Ryan James revealed on Wednesday that Indigenous All Stars players were united in their stance against Advance Australia Fair.
The stance comes after News Corporation reported on Wednesday that the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council had discussed the idea of axing the anthem from the pre-game ceremony.
Next year's match against the New Zealand Maori All Stars will be played at Cbus Super Stadium on February 22 and an Australian Rugby League Commission meeting in the lead-up is expected to decide whether the anthem will be played
James said if the players had it their way the anthem would not be played.
"We sat down and talked about it last year," he said.
"It doesn't represent us or what we do. We can stand there silently and protest but it's up to the commission to see what they do.
"They know where we stand as a team, players and indigenous people. Ultimately it's their decision."
When asked if the whole team felt the same way, James said: "Coming off what we talked about last year, they would like it not to be (played)."
A host of indigenous NRL players, including James, gathered in northern NSW over the weekend to attend a cultural camp.
Among them was Roosters star Latrell Mitchell, who along with Josh Addo-Carr and Cody Walker chose not to sing the Australian anthem during this year's State of Origin series.
Mitchell, who was dropped during the series, suggested in an interview at the weekend that his anthem boycott impacted on his place in the NSW side, claims refuted by the NSW Rugby League and Blues coach Brad Fittler.
James said the anthem's lyrics were not representative of indigenous people and culture, but admitted it was not a simple topic to address.
"Some of the lyrics … my mum was born indigenous to this land and she wasn't recognised as a person - that was 1960," he said.
"We've definitely come a long way since then, but some of those words don't connect with us as people and we don't stand for it.
"We saw what the Maori team did last year and how all of them knew the songs they were singing.
"We were in awe of what they were doing with their team, the women's and men's teams, they all knew these songs from their culture.
"There's so many different languages and regions in Australia. We don't really know all the songs.
"It's a really hard thing to do. It's not an easy fix."
Talisha Harden, a member of the indigenous council, said the Indigenous All Stars women's players were supportive of each other's beliefs.
"I know we've got girls in our group who don't sing the anthem and some who do for their own personal reasons," she said.
"We're all really accepting and of the belief everyone is entitled to their own opinion about the anthem."
Maori All Stars representative Jordan Kahu said he was proud to sing the New Zealand anthem, which incorporates English and Maori lyrics.
"From my background, I love signing the Maori version, it means a lot to me," he said.
"It's all I can remember and what I've grown up on. Being a proud Maori it's really special getting to sing the anthem.
"There's still a lot of work to be done (in reconciliation). Changing the (Australian) anthem would be a little step in the right direction and I know how much it would mean to the Aboriginal community and people.
"I'd like to see it personally but we'll see what happens."