Club Stands by Leniu, NRL Great Says NRL Process “Absolutely Ridiculous”

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Roosters coach Trent Robinson (left) and Spencer Leniu (centre) arrive at NRL headquarters. Photo: Fox League.

Sydney Roosters star Spencer Leniu has his club’s unwavering support as he is handed an 8-week suspension from the NRL – who have been criticized for letting the issue linger – taking 8 days to hold the hearing and hand down their decision.

Leniu, 23, had already pleaded guilty to the conduct charge, admitting calling Brisbane Bronco Ezra Mam a “monkey” in the season-opening clash in Las Vegas on 3rd March.

NRL great Paul Gallen weighed into the drama slamming the time it has taken for the hearing to get underway in a column for Wide World of Sports.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous that the NRL has let the issue fester for more than a week..”

“The governing body needed to schedule the judiciary hearing last week, before the rest of round one got underway on Thursday night.

“Now we have the rugby league rumour mill discussing what Broncos players may have been saying to Leniu during the same game.”

Gallen said he felt sorry for Ezra Mam, who was on the receiving end of the monkey sledge.. “and I also feel for Leniu, too, who I think did the right thing last week by putting his hand up and apologising.”

There has been talk of remarks made by Broncos players towards Leniu, however, the Samoan player has not stooped to that level.

Leniu had instead, offered to fly to Brisbane and apologise to Mam face to face. An offer which was turned down by Mam who instead, prepared a victim statement for the hearing.

Samoa is the Home of Taula.
Spencer Leniu wanted to say sorry in person. 

“If I had it my way in a perfect world, I would have preferred to say sorry to him in person,” he said. “I would’ve flown to Brisbane and said it to his face without others knowing.

“I don’t have any worries about him saying no to me because I understand what he’s going through. Hopefully down the line without anyone knowing I can see him in person and say I’m sorry.”

Roosters Chief Executive Joe Kelly reiterated the Club’s support for Leniu after the hearing. “We accept the suspension of eight weeks, but in relation to the hearing, the club stands behind Spencer and is firmly of the belief that he is not racist.”

“The club remains strong in its position that Spencer did not use the word – the subject of tonight’s hearing – in a racially derogatory way.”

After extensive evidence was presented by both the Roosters’ legal team and the NRL counsel in a 90-minute hearing, a ban of eight weeks has been given to the Tricolours’ prop.

The decision means Leniu can return to action for the Roosters’ clash with the Warriors in Round 10, and misses the Broncos match in Round 9.

Ever since the incident came to light during the Roosters’ clash with the Broncos in Las Vegas, there has been enormous interest in the length of the suspension Leniu would receive.

Paul Gallen points out that there has actually been a precedent set not too long ago in relation to a player using a derogatory slur against an opponent.

In 2022 Marcelo Montoya received a four game suspension for a homophobic remark towards Kyle Feldt.

“I know Leniu’s comment is racial rather than homophobic, but I still think the NRL has set that precedent already and we can’t just suddenly double or triple the punishment because of the media attention this incident has received.”

Leniu arrived at the hearing at NRL headquarters in Moore Park flanked by coach Trent Robinson and a Roosters legal team, with Geoff Bellew fronting the judiciary panel alongside former Kangaroo Bob Lindner and ex-referee Sean Hamstead.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson (left) and Spencer Leniu (centre) arrive at NRL headquarters. Photo: Fox League.