The NRL has backflipped on its decision to scrap the national anthem at Wednesday’s State of Origin opener after an intervention from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Barely two hours after the decision was made to can the anthem from the pre-match ceremony, ARLC chairman Peter V’landys has bowed to backlash and reinstated it.
It is understood Mr Morrison intervened by contacting Mr V’landys and pleading the case for strong national unity after a year of hardship.
The original decision came after last year’s series was dominated by the issue when Blues trio Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Josh Addo-Carr spoke out before the game about their refusal to sing.
Much of the issue centred around the words “young and free”, which are seen as being disrespectful to 60,000 years of pre-European Indigenous history.
Walker began the movement at last 2019’s Indigenous All Stars match, during which he refused to sing the anthem, explaining it did not represent his family.
NSW players, including captain Boyd Cordner, still sung the anthem at last year’s Origin clashes, but the decision was taken out of their hands in a Wednesday meeting.
Representatives of Queensland and NSW voted to scrap the anthem, reportedly reasoning that the event is not a contest between international countries.
Earlier this year the ARL Commission took on the feedback of indigenous players and scrapped the national anthem at the annual All Stars match.
“I was ashamed of myself when I left that meeting,” Mr V’landys said.
“I was disappointed that I was unaware of their situation, the historical issues over our time and some of the things that they go through.
“We made a lot of mistakes with our Indigenous communities. We need to acknowledge those mistakes, and we don’t want to make the same mistakes again.”