Roosters take immediate action after Spencer Leniu hit with ban at NRL judiciary

The Roosters announced they will put their entire club through cultural training following Spencer Leniu's judiciary admission.

The Sydney Roosters have announced that the entire club will go through cultural training after Spencer Leniu said players of colour in the NRL regularly call each other names including "blacky", "monkey" and "black c***". On Monday night, Leniu was handed an eight-week ban for telling Ezra Mam to "f*** up you monkey". The prop said his comment was in response to hearing his name said by the Indigenous star in their opening-round clash in Las Vegas.

The suspension means Leniu will return in round 10 against the Warriors on May 12, one week after the rest of the Roosters squad heads to Brisbane to take on the Broncos in a highly anticipated grudge match. After pleading guilty, Leniu's legal team pushed for a lighter four-game ban for the former Penrith premiership winner as the prop claimed at the time he was not aware of the racial connotations of the term.

Pictured Spencer Leniu left and Roosters right
Sydney Roosters officials will put their entire club through cultural training after Spencer Leniu was handed an eight week ban from the NRL judiciary. Image: Getty

The Roosters recruit - who was playing his first game for the club since joining from Penrith - argued that he thought he was "one brown man saying something to another brown man" and insisted he wasn't aware of the historical significance of the term. "A lot of people in my circle and in the same skin tone to me, our slang and how we speak to each other has all those words," Leniu told the panel during a 90-minute hearing.

"Black c***, and all those types of words are used. They are so common in our language that we speak to each other every single day. (We say) Blacky, we always have a competition of who is the darkest in the team, Monkey and all that kind of stuff."

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 02: Spencer Leniu (r) of the Roosters exchanges heated words with Kotoni Staggs of the Broncos during the round one NRL match between Sydney Roosters and Brisbane Broncos at Allegiant Stadium, on March 02, 2024, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Spencer Leniu exchanges heated words with the Broncos during the round one NRL match between Sydney Roosters and Brisbane Broncos at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Image: Getty

Leniu claimed his remark to Mam was simply meant as "banter". He was then contacted by an Indigenous woman the following morning who explained the historical connotations. Following his sentence and admission to the NRL judiciary, the Roosters moved to ensure history doesn't repeat itself, with Leniu's admission shining a light on a broader issue in the game.

Roosters CEO Joe Kelly commended the way Mam and the Broncos handled the incident but insisted Leniu was not racist and that the comment was made due to a lack of education and understanding. "We'll increase his education about the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people," Kelly said.

"We'll also be supporting all of our other Indigenous players in the club. And across the board, all staff and players will undergo further education of these cultures as well as the Pacific culture."

Andrew Abdo says sentence reflects league's tough stance on racism

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said the long sentence showed the league's tough stance on racism. "Racism and vilification has no place in modern society and will not be tolerated in rugby league," Abdo said.

"The events of last week go against everything the game is built on. We all take great pride in the game's strong links to Indigenous culture, its representation of Indigenous and Pacific Islander players and its ability to meld communities together.


"From this sad event, some important lessons can be learned. We will work with the players and the RLPA to continue to deliver important awareness and education programs and ensure rugby league continues to be the greatest game for all."

with AAP

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