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Talisha Harden, Ryan James, Jordan Kahu and Zahara Temara at the launch of the 2020 All Stars.

Ryan James hopes February's Indigenous All Stars clash can be the catalyst for the NRL to "make some decisions" amid debate about the suitability of the national anthem.

The Titans star, who is a proud Bundjalung man, has backed the push for the singing of Advance Australia Fair to be scrapped before the All Stars clash between the Indigenous and Maori teams on the Gold Coast on February 22.

"We sat down and talked about it last year and it just doesn’t represent us or what we do," James told reporters on Wednesday.

James said while rugby league has made progress with regards to Indigenous issues, there was still a fair way to go.

"It's a good time for the players and the NRL to make some decisions," he told

"There are a lot of things that still need to be raised and talked about. The conversations have definitely started. It just brings it more to light with the players and all the media around it."

The All Stars fixture will likely mark James's long-awaited return from an ACL injury after being limited to six NRL games last season.

James: Anthem doesn't represent us

He also missed the Indigenous team's 34-14 win over their Maori counterparts in 2019 and can't wait to add to his five All Stars appearances.

"I'll just be happy to play footy again; it's been that long that I've played, it feels like forever," he said.

"The knee's all healed now and I'm ready to go."

James got great value from an Indigenous leadership camp at Fingal Head on NSW's far north coast over the weekend, joining the likes of Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Adam Elliott.

"We got to go up there and go surfing and learn some of the traditional ways to make spears and go out and use them and go fishing," James said.

"We sat down and got to reconnect to country and it was great, because Fingal was where my mum grew up."

A decade after it was first played, the All Stars concept is returning to the Gold Coast for the first time since 2015.

James believes it's fitting given the match was the brainchild of ex-Titans player Preston Campbell, who is now on the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council.

"It's just great to be able to recognise all [Campbell's] hard work, not only into the game but in the community," James said.

"It's great for the Gold Coast community as well, because we get to go out and give back to them."

James said Campbell's influence would be felt by the Indigenous players.

Back to Country: Indigenous players reconnect

"He's always in and around camp and he came to the camp on the weekend," he said.

"It's good for all the other players who haven't had too much to do with Presto to see how he carries himself and what he does off the field and what sort of human being he is.

"If we had 10 more Preston Campbells in the world, the world would be 10 times better."


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.

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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