Maroons and Blues stand for the national anthem.
Maroons and Blues stand for the national anthem.

Origin stars boycott anthem

A number of State of Origin stars have produced a stirring moment at Suncorp Stadium by refusing to sing the national anthem ahead of Game 1.

Former Queensland star Johnathan Thurston performed Welcome To Country seconds before Lucy Maunder opened up with Advance Australia Fair.

Standing in the Blues corner, debutant Payne Haas, Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr locked arms with their teammates but did not sing the anthem.

Maroons stars Will Chambers, Josh Papalii, Dane Gagai, Kalyn Ponga and Dylan Napa were also seen standing silent through the anthem.

Earlier this week Queensland star Chambers joined NSW rivals Walker and Addo-Carr by announcing he wouldn't sing the national anthem at the State of Origin opener.

Chambers says Advance Australia Fair doesn't represent indigenous Australians and he'd made the choice to stay silent during the anthem on Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium.

While Chambers says his decision is a personal one, he is also hopeful it's part of a wider awakening about the anthem's disconnect with indigenous Australians.

"It doesn't represent us," said Chambers, an Aborigine from Gove in the Northern Territory.

"It's our personal choice and I won't be singing.

"If the guys (indigenous Origin players) don't want to sing it, so be it.

"If enough of us stand by and not sing, maybe one day there will be change and that's all we can hope for."

Chambers, with seven Tests for Australia, said as he had learned more about his heritage and history, he'd decided to stop singing the anthem.

After Walker and Chambers' Melbourne teammate Addo-Carr announced they wouldn't sing the anthem, ex-Queensland great Johnathan Thurston called for a referendum on the continued use of Advance Australia Fair.

Chambers said for any change to happen, those in power had to support the move. "I know I do have an impact in the community and the young generations and rugby league in general," Chambers said.

"There will be people above me who have to make a decision.

"It's not up for me to make that decision. If they don't want to acknowledge it (the anthem being changed), then we are banging our heads against a wall."

- with AAP



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