Debate as Ezra Mam’s statement kept hidden from public, Spencier Leniu banned at NRL judiciary


The NRL 360 panel has debated the judiciary’s “unusual” step of allowing of Ezra Mam’s statement to remain largely confidential for Spencer Leniu’s racial slur hearing.

Sydney Roosters prop Leniu was on Monday night suspended for eight matches for calling Broncos five-eighth Ezra Mam a “monkey” last week’s opening round game in Las Vegas.

Mam did not attend the hearing and sent a 12-paragraph statement, but the final eight paragraphs were redacted from public view.

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“I saw him at marker and recall saying words to the effect of ‘run it back at Spencer’,” the public part of the statement read.

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

Veteran Daily Telegraph reporter Phil Rothfield said it was “highly unusual” that a large part of Mam’s statement was kept in-house.

“I’m a little bit disappointed that the NRL and the judiciary have agreed to close some of his evidence,” Rothfield said on NRL 360 on Monday night, before Leniu’s verdict was delivered.

“If this is a court hearing, I think the fans and the punters, and the Indigenous people are entitled to know (what happened).

“I can’t ever remember any judiciary saying any evidence is not for public consumption.”

Ref mic the moment Mam makes complaint | 00:26

NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent agreed, saying the statement should be “open” with no legal ramifications for its content.

Reports over the weekend suggested Leniu may have been on the receiving end of a “derogatory remark” himself just moments before the incident involving Mam.

Rothfield said it was possible that the hidden part of the statement may have included details of what lead to the slur, but stressed the claims that Broncos players may have seen something unsavoury were “unsubstantiated”.

“It was unsubstantiated and I dont like casting aspersions on the Broncos,” he said.

“.. but I’m wondering if that’s the in-house part, the redacted part.”

Leniu repeatedly said during the heating that he did not think his comment was racial in nature, but it didn’t stop the NRL from handing him a hefty ban in the biggest hearing since Billy Slater’s case in grand final week six years ago.


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