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Manly legend and indigenous mentor Cliff Lyons doesn't have a view on whether 'Advance Australia Fair' should change as Australia's national anthem.

"I'll go with whatever the Australian people want, or vote for," Lyons told

But he has a firm position on the importance of the NRL Indigenous round.

"It's great to have our culture recognised ... it's been there for 50,000 years-plus so there's a lot to be recognised," he said.

And he's pretty vocal on his beloved Sea Eagles - "How good are Manly going!" - giving the 2019 competition a real shake.

What he particularly likes seeing is players like Daly Cherry-Evans and Kane Elgey - or any Manly half - chip and chase, a Lyons trademark in his 309 games in maroon and white.

"Sometimes halves play can be boring. But now they're starting to move about a bit, doing the chip kicks and using their speed to put someone into a gap," he said.

Soward's favourite Indigenous stars

"I really like the way the Manly halves are good support players, either laying on a try or being there to finish one off."

His other favourite right now is watching Joel Thompson on and off the field, especially when he's doing community work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids.

Manly second rower Joel Thompson
Manly second rower Joel Thompson ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"Joel is a hundred per cent committed at going to the country areas and talking to people. He loves it and they love him," Lyons said.

"He's been through hardships himself, he's grown the better for it, he is a powerful figure when he tells others his story."

Lyons is a pretty famous character himself around the northern beaches. He and current Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler were the halves in Manly's 1987 premiership-winning team, and they both came off the bench in the 1996 grand final win.

He retired in 1999, or 10 years before Indigenous Round became official on the NRL calendar.

But for Manly's clash with the Titans on Friday players will wear a jersey, designed by artist Lee Hampton, as a tribute to Lyons' career and acknowledgement that 12 per cent of NRL players have indigenous heritage.

"I'll definitely be there. I'll be in the front row seat watching Joel and the boys run out," Lyons said.

His face is also on the main image on Manly's jersey. There is also the image of a lizard - its back legs containing 80 dots for each of Lyons' 80 tries for Manly. The front legs have 120 dots - Lyons' Hall of Fame number.

Manly's 2019 Indigenous Round jersey
Manly's 2019 Indigenous Round jersey ©NRL Photos

"It's great to see Cliff on the front," Thompson said.

"They've done a brilliant job with the jersey. He is a legend for many people, especially indigenous communities. And once again the beautiful art of our culture will be on a lot of jerseys this weekend.

"It's a proud moment for us all to see that."

Thompson has played in five Indigenous All Stars teams, alongside the greats like Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston.

"But I always looked up to Cliff. I love to see the leader he still is and the way he gives back to people. He's always got time for someone.

"As players that's something we can all learn from."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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