Four Indigenous rugby league players will stage a silent protest in objection to the Australian national anthem's "young and free" lyrics.

By Ian Horswill

Posted on June 5, 2019

It ended the career of Colin Kaepernick at the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL in 2016, but four Indigenous players will refuse to sing the Australian national anthem at the sold-out NRL State of Origin match in Brisbane tonight.

Kaepernick would sit during the playing of the national anthem and US President Donald Trump told NFL clubs to “fire” players who refused to stand for the US national anthem. He has never played since.

However, it is extremely unlikely that the silent protest of Josh Addo-Carr, Will Chambers, Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker over the lyrics of Advance Australia Fair will have the same effect.

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Walker started the protest during the national anthem in February at an All-Stars pre-season match in February, saying it did not represent his family.

Addo-Carr was the next to follow, stating: “I respect what he (Walker) said. We are Australians too. Indigenous people were the first people here, on the land. I have full support of Cody’s decision and I will be behind him all the way.”

Josh Addo Carr Facebook

Then Mitchell and Chambers said they would not sing the national anthem.

“It doesn’t represent my people,” Mitchell told Channel Seven. “We aren’t young and free. We’re the longest-living culture in the world.”

They say the words “young and free” are disrespectful to 60,000 years of pre-European Indigenous history and they appear to have the support of their captains.

“Who am I to say what Will Chambers can and can’t feel?” said non-Indigenous Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans.

“Hopefully this sort of stuff does start conversations, not just in sports but around the country, around what we believe can make the country a better place.”

Advance Australia Fair was written by Scottish-born composer Peter Dodds McCormick in 1878. The lyrics were changed to remove references to “Brittania” and England before it became the national anthem in 1984.

Liberal MP Craig Kelly suggested that the lyrics of the national anthem could be changed.

“These words of our national anthem are not something carved in stone, ” Kelly told ABC Radio.

He said changing the words from “young and free” to “strong and free” was one option.

“If these gentlemen said [they] would be happy to sing the national anthem with changing that one word, I think a lot of Australians would sit down and they would say, OK let’s change that word.”