NRL news, State of Origin 2020: National anthem debate, backflip, reaction, Peter FitzSimons, Paul Kent, Jim Wilson

The NRL has been gang-tackled by several leading commentators after an embarrassing day which saw it backflip on plans to scrap the national anthem from its State of Origin series.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stepped in to ensure Advance Australia Fair was played before this year’s matches between NSW and Queensland after a furious backlash to the NRL’s decision.

Despite changing its mind, the league has continued to cop it.

Sky News host Chris Smith said the NRL “took the coward’s way out” with its original move to ban the anthem, which was “one of the most pathetic decisions ever made by a sporting organisation”.

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“A group of Indigenous Origin players refused to sing the anthem last year as a protest against the white invasion of Australia,” he said. “So to avoid embarrassment, (NRL CEO Andrew) Abdo took the coward’s way out and banned the anthem altogether.”

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