'Proud' Maori All-Stars ditch anthem in massive 'show of support'

Neither Australia or New Zealand's national anthems will be played at Saturday's NRL All Stars game, with the Maori All Stars confirming God Defend New Zealand will not be played at the match.

The ARL Commission announced earlier this month Advance Australia Fair would not be played at the game on the advice of the game's Indigenous players.

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Several members of Indigenous All Stars had indicated they did not want the Australian anthem played as it did not represent them, their families or First Nations culture.

Maori All Stars coach David Kidwell says while he and his players are fiercely proud of New Zealand's anthem - which includes both Maori and English lyrics - they were also aware of the concerns of their opponents.

New Zealand Maori Kiwi players are seen during the National Anthem prior to the NRL exhibition match between the Indigenous All Stars and the Maori All Stars at AAMI Park on February 15, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

"We're proud of our anthem. Being bilingual, it's got the Te Reo in there, but on this occasion and this event we support our Indigenous brothers," Kidwell told AAP.

"Our show of unity, with them, is we've decided not to play our anthem as well and that's a show of support but any time we get to sing our anthem we're very proud of it."

Bespoke haka organised

The lack of anthems will bring an increased focus on the pre-game war cries of the two teams.

Kidwell revealed he had arranged for a bespoke haka to be arranged for his team, which will be performed before the match.

"Talking to my cultural adviser I said I wanted to create a new haka for ourselves - a Maori All Stars haka - that's something about us," he said.

"Our focus is on that and we haven't actually started practising it yet so first day, but it's very exciting and what we've been talking about."

Maori All Stars forward Adam Blair said while he was always proud to sing New Zealand's anthem, he understood the concerns of Indigenous players.

Latrell Mitchell of the Indigenous All Stars performs an Indigenous war cry during the NRL exhibition match between the Indigenous All Stars and the Maori All Stars at AAMI Park on February 15, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

"They've made a stance to go through the right process to take the anthem away from the game," Blair told AAP.

"If that's what they truly believe in, then that's up to them."

Both teams arrived on the Gold Coast on Monday ahead of Saturday's match at CBUS Super Stadium as well as the two women's teams who'll take part in their own match before the men's match.

All four teams will hold their first training sessions on Tuesday.