NRL star Latrell Mitchell has criticised the praise for the Wallabies, who performed the Australian national anthem in Indigenous language prior to Saturday night’s match against Argentina.
The Wallabies blew a late chance to win, but earned praise after each player learned the words to the anthem in Eora language, performing the anthem alongside singer Olivia Fox.
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The performance in the Indigenous language was followed by a performance in English.
While the gesture, which was accompanied by the Wallabies wearing their First Nations jerseys for the second time, was generally well received, South Sydney star Mitchell took to Instagram to re-affirm long-standing issues with the national anthem itself.
“When will people understand that changing it to language doesn’t change the meaning,” Mitchell wrote on his Instagram story.
“Be proud, but understand what you’re proud of.
“I stand for us, our mob! Be proud of the oldest living culture. Always was always will be.”
Mitchell was one of several players who chose not to sing the national anthem during last year’s Indigenous All-Stars game, telling Channel 7 in an interview that it was the words ‘young and free’ that particularly stood out.
“It doesn't represent my people,” he said in the 2019 interview.
“We aren't young and free. We're the longest-living culture in the world.
“I guess just for them words to be in that, it just contradicts the whole anthem for us singing it.”
Fans praise Wallabies’ Indigenous anthem performance
The Eora Nation is the collective of 29 Indigenous clans that make up the Sydney metropolitan area, and the entire Wallabies squad spent time during the week learning the anthem in the language.
They stood behind singer Olivia Fox, from the Newtown School of Performing Arts, each singing the words clearly while wearing the team’s First Nations jerseys.
It marked the first time a dual language national anthem had been performed at a major Australian sporting event, with the impressive spectacle prompting calls for it to become the standard in future.
Rugby Australia published the words to the national anthem in Eora language to their website, while many fans and commentators were blown away by the performance.
The reaction to the anthem rendition on Twitter was sizeable.
Despite the stirring anthem performance, the Wallabies' year that started so promisingly ended with another deflating Tri Nations draw.
It was the second draw in a row played out between the Wallabies and Pumas, as New Zealand celebrating officially being crowned Tri-Nations champions.
The Wallabies and Pumas finished deadlocked at 16-16 on Saturday night after fullback Reece Hodge missed with a long-range last-minute penalty goal attempt - yet again.
Hodge also had the chance to boot Australia to victory with three minutes to go in their 15-15 draw with the Pumas two weeks ago in Newcastle.
The cursed star also struck the upright with an after-the-siren shot in the Wallabies' season-opening 16-16 stalemate with the All Blacks in Wellington in October.
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