Johnathan Thurston slams Spencer Leniu ban, how long is Spencer Leniu banned for, Ezra Mam monkey sledge, latest, updates

An “emotional” Johnathan Thurston believes the NRL’s punishment for Spencer Leniu did not “fit the crime” after the Sydney Roosters star was banned for eight games for labelling Ezra Mam a “monkey.”

Thurston, a proud Indigenous man, “was looking at probably 12 weeks” for Leniu and felt let down by the NRL that they did not take a stronger stance on the matter.

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“I understand he has owned up to what he said, but the NRL – we have the Indigenous All Stars match, we have Indigenous Round, NRL Indigenous strategy team,” Thurston said on Nine’s Today.

“So we’re saying and doing all the right things, but I definitely don’t think the punishment has fit the crime.

“I’m quite emotional talking about it, it’s certainly opened up a lot of scars for our people. I spoke to Ezra after the match to check on his wellbeing, he was pretty shattered about it all.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to make a statement and I don’t think the eight weeks is sufficient.

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“The NRL had a great opportunity to make a stand – not only for the game but for society as well. I think the game has failed in this instance.”

Leniu learned his fate after a 90-minute hearing at the judiciary on Monday night and is unavailable for selection until Round 10 for the Roosters.

Although Thurston was adamant the Roosters enforcer deserved a longer stint on the sidelines, he was quick to state Leniu needs to be “supported” after he copped “a fair bit of abuse”.

“Having a deep understanding of what my family has been through, this history of our nation, what our culture has been through,” Thurston said.

“Those types of remarks do bring up mental scars for our people. It’s been quite difficult over the last couple of weeks.

“You’ve got to check on Spencer as well, I understand he’s copped a fair bit of abuse for it. This is an education piece, we need to make sure both parties are being supported.”

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