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Rugby League Star Ezra Mam Claims Rival Player Used Racial Slur

During a highly anticipated game in Las Vegas, Indigenous Australian rugby league star Ezra Mam of the Brisbane Broncos has accused his rival player, Spencer Leniu from the Sydney Roosters, of using a racial slur by calling him a “monkey.”

Following the match, when questioned about the complaint, Leniu downplayed the incident, stating that “nothing” had occurred and suggesting that it’s all part of the competitive spirit on the field.

The allegation has brought attention to an issue that is relatively rare within player interactions, as Australian sports, particularly rugby league, grapple with racist abuse incidents from crowds. NRL officials are actively investigating Mam’s claim, casting a shadow over the beginning of the season.

In the matchup at Allegiant Stadium, part of a high-profile round aimed at attracting a US audience to Australia’s premier rugby league competition, the Brisbane Broncos faced the Sydney Roosters. During the game, which ended in a 20-10 loss for the Broncos, player Ezra Mam reported an alleged racial slur to the referee. Mam’s claim was reiterated by a teammate, prompting the referee to file a formal complaint despite not personally hearing the language.

Spencer Leniu, a Samoa Test representative from the Sydney Roosters, now faces charges under the NRL’s behavior code. Leniu is set to appear before a judiciary panel that will review evidence and has the authority to impose penalties, including fines and match bans. Broncos coach Kevin Walters stated that Mam was “adamant” about the alleged slur and expressed significant distress after the incident.

“In this modern era, one wouldn’t expect such behavior to persist,” remarked team captain Adam Reynolds. He emphasized the team’s firm stance against racism and pledged support for Ezra, ensuring his well-being.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson, responding to the accusation, stated that he had not yet discussed the matter with Leniu. Robinson emphasized the importance of the formal process in addressing such issues and stressed that the complaint alone doesn’t determine its validity.

Reports from local media indicate that Mam’s teammates engaged in a verbal dispute with Leniu over the incident in a hotel corridor where both teams were staying.

The NRL has faced challenges in addressing instances of racial abuse directed at players by spectators in recent years. Players such as Latrell Mitchell from the South Sydney Rabbitohs have consistently reported encountering vitriol, both online and during matches.

Mitchell, who also serves as the captain of the Indigenous All Stars, took to Instagram on Sunday to express his support for Mam and called for decisive action from league authorities. “I stand with you,” he declared.

NRL leadership has committed to eliminating racism from the sport and asserts that individuals engaging in racial abuse or threats towards players will be reported to the police.


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