Sydney Roosters Prop Spencer Leniu Hit With 8-Week Suspension After Racist ‘Monkey’ Comment

Sydney Roosters prop Spencer Leniu has been hit with an eight week suspension for a racial slur directed towards Brisbane Broncos star Ezra Mam.

Leniu pleaded guilty after calling Mam, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, a “monkey” during the season opener in Las Vegas earlier this month.

However, he insisted that he was unaware of the racial meaning behind the word and claimed he didn’t even realise it was a slur until receiving a text the following morning.

The judiciary panel unanimously handed down the eight-game ban the NRL was seeking, saying that while they acknowledged his remorse and attempts to make an apology in person, they rejected that he was unaware of the racist meaning behind it.

Leniu moved from the Penrith Panthers to the Sydney Rooster for the 2024 season. Image: Getty / Matt King.

Mam did not attend the hearing but provided a written statement to the panel describing the incident.

“I saw him at marker and recall saying words to the effect of ‘run it back at Spencer’,” he said. 

“I then recall Spencer saying ‘fuck up, you monkey’. I felt so angry and disappointed at the incident, and from that point my focus was no longer on the game.”

Mam then made an official complaint on the field.

Lenui has since apologised to Mam in a statement, saying he also offered to fly to Brisbane to apologise to in person. However, the Broncos player didn’t want to meet him.

“This game happens so fast. In that split second I said a word that I didn’t know the meaning to. I didn’t know how much that meant to the Indigenous community, Ezra and his family,” Lenui said.

“There is no room for racism in this game. I’m happy he brought this thing up. I had no racial intent towards Ezra and the community.”

“I’m so sorry that I used that word. I made him feel little.”

Leniu will be eligible to play again in round 10 in the Roosters match with the Warriors.