Ezra Mam's admission about Latrell Mitchell as NRL star breaks silence on Spencer Leniu storm

The Broncos five eighth says he is open to speaking to Spencer Leniu about the incident.

Broncos star Ezra Mam has spoken out for the first time about the racial abuse hurled his way by Spencer Leniu during the NRL's groundbreaking Las Vegas season opener. During the Roosters and Broncos match Leniu told Mam to "f*** up you monkey", leading to the Broncos five-eighth making a formal complaint.

Months on from the incident Mam, a proud Torres Strait Islander, says he has no regrets about calling out Leniu's racial slur but extended an olive branch to the Roosters prop, revealing he is prepared to meet with him when the time is right. "I just stuck to what my beliefs are and how I was brought up as a strong cultural man," he said. "If there's anything I'm proud of, it's my culture, and that's what I'm going to stick up for. It's my identity and that's the reason why I am here.... I think when the time is right we will have a chat."

Pictured L-R: Ezra Mam, Latrell Mitchell and Spencer Leniu
Ezra Mam revealed he received huge support from Latrell Mitchell following the Spencer Leniu incident. Image: Getty

The Broncos half made an official complaint during the round one encounter, leading to the prop being hurled in front of the NRL judiciary to explain his actions. The Roosters recruit - who was playing his first game for the club since joining from Penrith - said he thought he was "one brown man saying something to another brown man" and argued that he didn't realise the racial connotations of the comment. He stated that players of colour in NRL squads regularly called each other names including "blacky", "monkey" and "black c***".

But the reasoning didn't get him off the hook, with the NRL slapping him with an eight-game ban. Following the incident Leniu apologised to Mam and offered to fly to Brisbane to meet with him face-to-face.

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)
Ezra Mam says he has moved on from the Spencer Leniu incident and would be willing to meet with him.

"There is no room for racism in this game," Leniu said at the time. "I'm glad he brought this thing up. I had no racial intent towards Ezra and the Indigenous community. I love them and their culture. I don't think there'd be a game without those people."

However, at that point in time Mam had no interest in speaking to Leniu about what transpired. But on Tuesday the Broncos half said enough time has now passed and he would be willing to talk to the Roosters forward.

"I think when the time is right we will have a chat," Mam said. "I appreciate that he wanted to come up and reach out to me. I have moved on from that now and I will probably have a chat to him when I see him, or whenever it is."

Ezra Mam reveals support he received from Latrell Mitchell

Mam says following the incident he received an outpouring of support from his teammates as well as Indigenous stars Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker and past greats Lote Tuqiri and Steve Renouf. "It was definitely a huge thing for other players to come out on behalf of me and reach out to me," he said.

"It lifted me up and lifted my spirits up. It's good to see all the Indigenous and non-Indigenous players reach out to me. I will just play good footy now, it was a long time ago. It was a bit tough, but in saying that I am looking forward to being in the present. I'm not going to talk about it anymore. I'll get on with the season and start playing some good footy."


Ezra Mam's emotional statement at NRL judiciary

In a statement provided to the judiciary following the incident, Mam explained he saw red after Leniu's slur and was left "angry" and "disappointed". The Indigenous star detailed the pain felt by him and his family from the words used, something the panel noted was taken into consideration when handing down the ban to Leniu.

The Roosters prop said his post-match comments regarding the words as "banter" were due to his lack of knowledge that his slur was racist. Leniu says he was only made aware of the history of the word "monkey" when contacted by an Indigenous woman the next morning. However, the panel said they "did not accept the player's claimed ignorance" and handed him an eight-match ban.

with AAP