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Brad Fittler calls on NRL to sanction Latrell Mitchell amid new Spencer Leniu twist

The NRL legend believes players who have commented on the Spencer Leniu racism saga should be sanctioned.

Brad Fittler believes the NRL should sanction players who have commented on the Spencer Leniu racism saga, claiming they have broken the league's protocols. Leniu will face the NRL judiciary on Monday night after pleading guilty to using a racial slur against Brisbane five-eighth Ezra Mam in Las Vegas last week.

The Roosters recruit was accused by Mam of calling him a 'monkey' during the blockbuster clash against the Broncos in Las Vegas. The prop is expected to be handed the NRL's heaviest-ever sanction for a racial slur.

Pictured L-R: Brad Fittler, Latrell Mitchell, Spencer Leniu
Brad Fittler believes NRL players who have commented on the Spencer Leniu racism saga should be sanctioned. Image: Getty

Following the incident, Latrell Mitchell took to social media to share a strong message about standing up to racism, suggesting Leniu should be banned for half the season if found guilty. “Standing up for what you believe in is the hardest thing you could ever do, that’s why not everyone can do it," Mitchell wrote alongside a photo of himself wearing the Aboriginal flag proudly. "You will either be hated or loved for doing it.

"I applaud anyone (non-indigenous also) for calling racism out. This is just something now we have to stay prepared to deal with which is the saddest part. I love my culture it is something that should be shared.” Mitchell ended his heartfelt post with the hashtag #IstandwithEzra, in support of the Broncos five-eighth. He also took to social media shortly after the incident writing: "NRL better deal with this s**t".

Brad Fittler calls for NRL to sanction outspoken players

But Fittler believes it is not his place to comment, telling The Footy Show that it is wrong that players had spoken on the matter. "Why doesn't everyone ring Ezra? Why does everything have to be done on social media?" Fittler said.

"The NRL has rules where you can't come out and make comments about situations that are going to judiciary, so they should be in trouble. If you want to support Ezra, ring him up. Go and see him. That's how you support someone."

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 02: Ezra Mam of the Broncos is tackled 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 will face the NRL judiciary on Monday night after pleading guilty to using a racial slur against Brisbane five-eighth Ezra Mam (pictured) in Las Vegas last week. (Ezra Shaw via Getty Images)

His remarks were echoed by fellow NRL great Paul Gallen who says the "hysteria" over the incident will likely result in Leniu receiving a longer ban than he believes the Roosters forward deserves. "The hysteria around this has been crazy," Gallen said.

"If he had pleaded not guilty, he would never have received a fair treatment. Could you imagine a judiciary panel finding him not guilty? They would have been destroyed themselves. I think eight weeks is too much ... I think five or six weeks is enough." AAP reports the league doesn't plan to sanction any player who has commented on the matter.

Spencer Leniu racism saga deepens

Mam will not be required to speak at Monday night's hearing, but he and Broncos teammates Payne Haas and Billy Walters have all provided statements to the NRL. It was previously believed that Mam and other Brisbane players could attend the hearing either in person or virtually, if the league needed their accounts of what was said at Allegiant Stadium but Leniu's plea has meant that is no longer required.

His early guilty plea can be taken into account by the panel when deciding the ban, with the prop arguing he was unaware of the racial connotations of his remark. Leniu issued an apology to Mam four days after the incident but Mam declined to accept it.

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Since then tensions have reached boiling point after suggestions were made that Leniu's comment was made in response to an alleged slur by a Brisbane player during the fiery season opener. The Broncos declined to comment on that allegation but conducted internal inquiries following the report and were satisfied no further action was required, The Courier-Mail report.

The NRL's judiciary has not had to deal with a racism scandal since 2009 when Paul Gallen was found guilty of making a racial slur. He was fined $10,000, issued a public apology and was stood down as Sharks captain. Before him, Bryan Fletcher was suspended for one match in 2005 for making racial comments to which he also apologised and was stood down as Souths captain. More recently, Tyrone Peachey accused Mitchell Barnett of a racial slur in 2020 but the NRL's integrity unit could not find conclusive evidence of the comment after reviewing both audio and vision of the game.

with AAP

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