The NRL has categorically denied an incident involving NSW Roosters captain James Tedesco allegedly yelling “squid games” at a woman outside Beach Road Hotel in Bondi last week.

Tiffany Trinh, whose background is Vietnamese, told the Sydney Morning Herald she’s launching a formal complaint to the NRL over the incident, which she believes was a “joke about her race”.

Trinh claims she was waiting outside Beach Road Hotel with a friend early on Thursday morning, waiting for a lift, when Tedesco (who was named NRL player of the year last month) said “squid games” to her before laughing with his mates.

She says the friend who was accompanying her called out Tedesco for the comment, but alleges that Tedesco laughed before asking: “Do you know who I am?”

“It was a group of about ten footy boys, and I was pretty intimidated. It felt pretty bad being laughed at,” Trinh said, per SMH.

“A 20-year-old tiny girl, waiting for a lift home and you have a bunch of guys come up to you and laugh at you for being Asian.

“It was definitely him, no doubt, and the comment was undeniably directed at me, the intent was clear.”

Trinh said she initially laughed the incident off, like many people of colour are often forced to do when faced with racism in Australia, but her friends and sister encouraged her to take the alleged incident seriously.

“All the fans idolise him, have posters of him. You can’t just let that slide,” she said.

Tiffany’s sister, Katherine Trinh, posted an open letter on Instagram addressing Tedesco on Thursday, recounting Tiffany’s story and calling the situation a racist micro-aggression.

James Tedesco racism allegations
Katherine Trinh, Tiffany Trinh’s sister, posted a statement on Instagram accusing James Tedesco of racism.

“This may seem like a joke to you, but these are micro-aggressions that keep racism alive in Australia,” she wrote in her statement.

“My dad used to tell stories of the racism he faced when he first moved here 30 years ago, my sisters and I can all recount racism we suffered throughout school, and now one of them can remember when an entitled footy player was racist to her just last night.

“A quick Google shows you are quite the footy player, and even represented our home state! No doubt, you are a role model to many. As such, you need to be held accountable for your words and actions. Do better.”

The NRL has since denied that Tedesco was being racist to Trinh, claiming he was only making a joke towards his friends about the viral South Korean drama, and Trinh just happened to be nearby.

“After we found out about the Instagram post we thoroughly investigated the matter,” Roosters chief executive Joe Kelly said, per 7 News.

“There was absolutely no interaction between James Tedesco with this group of people. We categorically deny that anything untoward occurred.”

The NRL Integrity Unit is currently conducting its own investigation into the alleged incident.