Sydney Roosters prop Spencer Leniu in hot water over alleged racial comment; Ezra Mam formal complaint

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By Liam O’Loughlin and Lachlan Harper

Roosters enforcer Spencer Leniu is in hot water for an alleged racial comment directed towards Ezra Mam during the Las Vegas season opener against Brisbane.

The off-season recruit was placed on report by referee Adam Gee during the second of two NRL fixtures on Sunday afternoon, following a heated on-field incident.

At this stage, there’s no clear audio evidence of Leniu making the remark, but Mam and his teammates were heard yelling on the field that the front-rower called the five-eighth a “monkey”.

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“Ezra has made a formal complaint that’s racial in nature against Spencer,” Gee said.

“I haven’t heard it, the incident goes on report and it will be dealt with after.”

Leniu left the field before the full-time siren and reportedly had to be escorted away from a verbal exchange with Broncos players by sidelined teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who was unavailable due to suspension.

Speaking to Triple M post-game, Leniu denied any wrongdoing.

“Nah nothing, it’s all just fun and games on the field, and that’s it,” he said before following it up saying he’s not worried at all about any potential punishment.

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According to NRL legend Johnathan Thurston on Nine’s broadcast, Mam was emotional after the incident with Leniu.

“They said he was in tears from it,” Thurston revealed.

“I’m a little bit emotional about it, that in this day and age one of our players would be allegedly saying what he said.

“After coming here with 40,000 people and two cracking games – we just didn’t need it.”

Brad Fittler echoed the sentiments of his co-host, expressing his own disappointment and labelling the run-in as “ridiculous” post-game. 

In the post-match press conference, Broncos coach Kevin Walters backed up Thurston’s comments that Mam was emotional.

”He’s pretty upset in there but we’ll leave that in the hands of the NRL to police and adjudicate on. We support Ezra in everything that’s around that,” he said.

“He’s adamant (Leniu said it), but we’ll leave it with the NRL. They’re looking at it and I won’t make any more comment on it but that we’re supporting our player and rightly so.”

Captain Adam Reynolds added he “didn’t hear it initially on the field” but backed up Walters’ statement that the Broncos support their players.

“He’s pretty upset in there, we certainly don’t stand for racism and we’ll support Ezra, get around him and make sure he’s alright and leave it in the NRL’s hands,” he said.

“… It’s certainly never nice to hear any racism slur or anything, not in this day and age, you wouldn’t think it’s still out there. It’s a bit of a shock.”

Roosters coach Trent Robinson offered limited comment on the incident, stating: “I can’t have any opinion on it, I don’t know what happened.”

Told in the press conference that Mam was adamant the comment had been made, Robinson said: “That doesn’t mean it’s right, he obviously made the complaint but that doesn’t mean it’s right, it will go through the formal process as it should.”

The coach added he hadn’t spoken to Leniu about the specific incident. 

In a dramatic affair, the Roosters held on for an 20-10 win over last year’s grand finalists.

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