Calls for bans for players who snub the Australian national anthem are growing after four players were sighted not taking part ahead of Saturday’s game against Samoa.
The Kangaroos kick started the Pacific Championships with a 38-12 win, but it was scenes before the game got underway that stole the show.
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As the Australian national anthem rung out around Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, four players were spotted refusing to take part.
Payne Haas, Kotoni Staggs, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Selwyn Cobbo were the players on Fox Sports’ footage who didn’t join in throughout the anthem.
It was that moment that led to veteran broadcaster Peter Peters calling for those who snub the anthem to be stood down and not selected.
“On Saturday we saw a magnificent war dance and anthem (from Samoa). It meant so much to the Samoan team, well led by Junior Paulo,” Peters told Sky Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast Weekend.
“It was very much part of them representing their country. On the other side, you’ve got several Australian players refusing to open their mouths during the national anthem.
“Mal Meninga should be strong enough to say ‘guys, part of playing for Australia is that you sing the national anthem with pride’. They do it in rugby – they don’t do many things right in rugby – but the players sing the national anthem.
“If you don’t want to sing it, you can’t be picked, no matter who the player is. This has gone on for too long. It’s in our NSW Origin side and I don’t like that either. You talk to the coach before it and if you don’t want to sing the national anthem then you don’t play.
“If you wear the jersey, you sing the song. It should be part of playing for Australia.”
His words were backed up by former Australian captain Max Krilich who emphatically declared players that don’t want to sing, shouldn’t be playing for Australia.
“If you don’t to want sing the anthem then don’t play for the Kangaroos,” Krilich said.
“It embarrasses me when they stand there staring like stunned mullets during the national anthem.
“It’s about showing respect for the national anthem of our country. It’s one-in, all-in so if you don’t want to sing the song then you’re out.
“Mal should get in there and say if you want to represent the great Australian jumper then get out there, open your mouths and sing the anthem.”
While Australian players were called out for refusing to take part in the singing of the national anthem, Samoan players were left in tears as their anthem rang out around the stadium.
As Lapi Marina belted out a wonderful rendition of the Samoan National Anthem Sāmoa Tulaʻi the pride of representing their ancestors was clear.
Cowboys second rower Luciano Leilua was clearly fighting back the emotions, while cameras also found Dolphins forward Connolly Lemuelu, who had tears streaming down his cheeks.
From there, the Samoan team delivered a spine-tingling Sivi Tau war dance.
“Brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” Andrew Voss said in commentary.
“It’s an amazing exhibition of the emotion, you saw the tears from Lemuelu and Leilua, and then how quickly then gets to that and the players are now wound up.
“It is a war cry which talks about fighting to the finish and working hard and that’s what they’ll have to do tonight.”