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No New Zealand anthem for All-Stars

New Zealand's national anthem will also be missing before the Australian Indigenous All-Stars men's and women's matches against the Maori Kiwis and Maori Ferns at Cbus Super Stadium on February 22.

The Australian Rugby League Commission announced yesterday that the Australian national anthem would not be played after accepting advice from the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council.

There was no mention at all of the New Zealand anthem's position in the ARLC's media release but inquiries today have confirmed it won't be played either even though it isn't the subject of any political debate like that which surrounds Australia's anthem.

In a statement released by the NRL yesterday, the Commission said it viewed the All-Stars match as "an event unique to Indigenous Australians and the wishes of our players should be respected."

"This decision was made after extensive consultation with senior members of our indigenous playing groups and members of ARLIC."

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said it was an important role of the commission to listen and consult with all players on issues that impact the game and individuals.

"The All Stars game was created as a celebration of indigenous players and their culture," he V’landys.

"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 acknowledgement 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."

Dragons prop Josh Kerr proudly sang the national anthem before his Indigenous All-Stars debut last season but he has welcomed the decision not to perform Advance Australia Fair at this year’s match.

Kerr’s view is one shared widely among the 12% of indigenous players in the NRL, which led to the ARLC’s endorsing a recommendation from the ARL Indigenous Council that the national anthem no longer feature at All Stars matches.

Debate over Advance Australia Fair has been simmering since leading indigenous players spoke out after electing not to sing it before last year’s All-Stars match and during the State of Origin series.

For the players and many other indigenous people involved in the game, it has been an issue for much longer and they believe most Australians will support the decision once it is explained.