Why NSW star won't sing the national anthem at State of Origin

Cody Walker says he’ll remain silent when Advance Australia Fair is played ahead of his State of Origin debut for NSW next Wednesday.

The Rabbitohs star, who also chose not to sing the national anthem at the NRL All Stars game in February, says he doesn’t want to cause controversy but feels strongly about remaining silent.

“I’m not pushing my views on anyone, it’s just how me and my family have grown up and how I feel,” he told Fairfax on Tuesday.

“I’ve already voiced my opinion, and I want to reiterate it’s just my opinion.’’

Walker was among a number of Indigenous players who didn’t sing the anthem in February, including Johnathan Thurston.

Cody Walker (centre back) with his NSW teammates. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“It just brings back so many memories from what’s happened (in Australia’s past),” Walker said at the time.

“It sort of doesn’t represent myself and my family.

“I think it’s something that everyone as a group, and everyone in Australia, needs to work something out.”

‘Just brushed over’

Thurston praised Walker and the others who took the stance, but was left disappointed it didn’t lead to a wider debate.

“I thought it was great leadership by the team,” Thurston told Fairfax.

“Cody Walker came out after the game and said the national anthem doesn’t represent him or his family. We made a decision based on that.

“The stand the team took on not singing the national anthem … it was like it was just brushed over.

Cody Walker speaks to the media. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“They did that and there wasn’t really any discussion to come out of that, even though it was a stand they took for themselves and their family.”

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga called for a referendum on the national anthem after the All Stars game.

“It is time for the Australian people, I believe, to have another conversation about their national anthem,” Meninga said at the time.

“We expect them (Kangaroos players) to sing the national anthem, but I’m also in favour of the fact, if it is offensive to indigenous Australians, let’s have a discussion about it.”

Indigenous boxer and former NRL star Anthony Mundine has also been vocal of his refusal to sing the anthem in the past, threatening to kneel if Advance Australia Fair was played while he was in the ring.

That followed Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players’ stance against the American national anthem, which saw him kneel before games.