The Australian national anthem will not feature at this month’s NRL All Stars match after consultation with the sport’s indigenous players.
The Australian national anthem will not feature at this month’s NRL All Stars match after consultation with the sport’s indigenous players.

Major changes for All Stars clash

The ARL Commission has scrapped the national anthem at the annual All Stars match on the advice of the game's indigenous players.

NRL fans will get their first glimpse at a captain's challenge in the indigenous-Maori All Stars clash on February 22 after the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) agreed to trial it.

A captain's challenge was discussed at the end of last season, and the commission say they intend to discuss the proposal with players, coaches and officials before they approve its use in the 2020 season.

LIVE stream Indigenous All-Stars v Maori Kiwis in the 2020 Harvey Norman NRL All Stars match on KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >   It will be used in the All Stars clash, and then a week later in the Charity Shield game in Mudgee between the Bunnies and the Dragons.

The proposed rule will allow the captain of a team to challenge a decision, with every club needing to nominate a secondary captain should the first skipper be off the field.

The calls which can be challenged are only ones where there is a restart required, such as a scrum, dropout or penalty.

Meanwhile, the ARL Commission has scrapped the national anthem at the annual All Stars match on the advice of the game's indigenous players.

The decision was ticked off after a meeting on Thursday between the ARLC and the NRL, and included consultation from the ARL Indigenous Council.

It comes a year after a number of indigenous players had opted not to sing the anthem during the clash with the Maori All stars team.

"The All Stars game was created as a celebration of indigenous players and their culture," ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said.

Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker during the 2020 Invasion Day march
Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker during the 2020 Invasion Day march

"We have listened to our players' concerns that the words of the anthem do not represent them or their families and does not include an acknowledgment of First Nations people.

"We respect their wishes and have agreed that the anthem will not be played at the All Stars match on February 22."

Indigenous All Stars captain Cody Walker chose not to sing the national anthem during last year's fixture because it does not recognise them as the nation's first people.

"It just brings back so many memories of what's happened (in Australia's past)," Walker said in 2019.

"It's something that everyone as a group and everyone in Australia need to get together and working something out.

"It doesn't represent myself and my family."

The move has been described by some as the game's Colin Kaepernick moment, in reference to the former NFL star who knelt during the US anthem in 2016. He was protesting against the treatment of African American people in the United States.

Indigenous star Latrell Mitchell posted a photo on Thursday of him leading the indigenous war cry last year alongside another of Kaepernick in TIME magazine.

Mitchell controversially claimed NSW selectors "went funny" on him and other indigenous teammates after they chose not to sing the anthem in game one last year.