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Players exchange words at hotel after racial slur claim

Spencer Leniu on racial allegation by Ezra Mam

Source: X/Triple M

NRL players have verbally clashed in the corridors of their Las Vegas hotel as the fallout continues over accusations Roosters prop Spencer Leniu aimed an ugly racial slur at an opponent.

The row between Brisbane and Sydney Roosters players at the Hilton at Resorts World ignited after Leniu was accused on Saturday night of directing a racist remark at Brisbane’s Indigenous star Ezra Mam during the NRL teams’ season-opener in Las Vegas.

Mam formally complained to referee Adam Gee in the moments after the apparent incident.

“Ezra has made a formal complaint that’s racial in nature against Spencer,” Gee told Roosters skipper James Tedesco.

Mam could be heard telling Gee “he called me a monkey” late in the second half of the Broncos’ 20-10 loss to the Roosters.

When placed on report by Gee, Leniu said: “Why would I say that?”.

Leniu will face the NRL judiciary over his alleged on-field slur. The judiciary is not scheduled to meet until Tuesday next week, after the remainder of round one has been completed.

However, the Roosters can make apply to judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew to have the hearing moved forward to this week, after teams return from the US.

“It was really disappointing to be talking about something of this nature,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said on Sunday.

“There is no place for discrimination of any kind. We take it very, very seriously.

“I can’t talk about the specifics of what happened last night. The player involved involved has been charged and then referred directly to the judiciary.

“We will respect that process and won’t make comments.”

Amid the ongoing fallout, tensions between the clubs remain high. It emerged on Monday that opposing players exchanged words as they passed each other at the Hilton in Las Vegas after the game.

The incident in the final minutes of Saturday's game

Source: X/Fox Sports

Witnesses say there was no threat of a physical altercation, and Leniu was ushered down the corridor by club staff, away from the confrontation.

The teams shared the same floor at the hotel.

Leniu told Triple M after the match he was not “worried at all”, and that the incident was “just fun and games on the field, that’s it”.

But an upset Mam has since told Broncos officials he is adamant the alleged slur was made.

Indigenous All Stars captain Latrell Mitchell has demanded the NRL take action, while posting “typical” alongside a headline detailing the alleged incident.

“I stand with you Bala,” Mitchell posted on an Instagram story.

“NRL better deal with this s–t.”

Johnathan Thurston said he was upset at the allegation, and reported Mam was “in tears”.

“A little bit emotional … that in this day and age one of our players will be allegedly saying what he said,” Thurston said on Nine.

“After coming here, 40,000 people. Two massive cracking games, and now we’re dealing with this. We didn’t need it after round one.”

The NRL has largely avoided any on-field racial incidents in the past decade, with Mitchell Barnett the last accused of a slur – by Tyrone Peachey in 2020.

Barnett denied the allegation, and the investigation was closed when a review of footage and audio uncovered no evidence.

Paul Gallen was fined $10,000 for a racial slur against St George Illawarra’s Mickey Paea in 2009.

Gallen made a public apology over the incident, and stood down as Cronulla captain.

Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya was suspended for four games in 2022 for a homophobic slur in a match against North Queensland, after being hit with a contrary conduct charge.

-with AAP

Topics: NRL
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