Spencer Leniu breaks silence on emotional toll of NRL racism scandal ahead of Blues debut

Leniu admits he went through some 'tough times' after the Ezra Mam incident.

Spencer Leniu admits he went through some tough times after being at the centre of a racism scandal during the NRL's venture into America. Leniu was slapped with an eight-match ban for calling Broncos five-eighth Ezra Mam a "monkey" in round one. At the time Leniu said players of colour in the NRL regularly called each other names including "blacky", "monkey" and "black c***" but after seeking more information surrounding the terms felt remorseful for the hurt his remark caused the Indigenous star.

Leniu was just one game into his Roosters career at the time of the incident and the prop says the support he received from Trent Robinson and other club officials has convinced him that he wants to be a Rooster for life. "It was pretty tough but tough times never last," Leniu said.

Spencer Leniu pictured
Spencer Leniu has revealed that he went through some tough times after being banned for calling Ezra Mam "a monkey". Image: Getty

“I have to give a massive shout-out to the Roosters. Those who know will always know what they did for me. I’m grateful for the time and the effort they put into me because they put their reputation on the line. I’ve been playing for the last three weeks, and my mindset was just on repaying what they invested in me.

“I’m grateful to be part of such a prestigious club. I didn’t know too much about the Roosters when I signed, but I definitely know what they’re about now. If it was my choice, I’d love to be a part of the club for life. If there was advice I could give young ones coming up, it’d be to know who your circle is.

“When you go through tough times like that, you’ll know really quickly who your circle is. The only opinions that matter are the ones in your circle. No one was talking to me for eight weeks except those who were in my circle, and they are only ones who matter. Stay staunch to who you are and what you believe.”

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 18: Spencer Leniu of the Roosters is tackled during the round 11 NRL match between Cronulla Sharks and Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium, on May 18, 2024, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Spencer Leniu is in line to make his State of Origin debut.

The powerhouse forward says after his suspension he thought he had no chance of an Origin debut this year given he only had three games to impress Blues selectors. But NSW coach Michael Maguire was impressed by what he’s seen from Leniu and delivered him the good news on the weekend.

"I honestly didn’t think I’d be on Madge’s radar. When I got the call from him I was wondering if he’d called the wrong number," Leniu said. "I was just at home watching Ozark on Netflix with my missus. I was so shocked so I didn’t know what to say."


Former Panthers teammate Isaah Yeo believes Leniu is a great choice for NSW after seeing first-hand the damage he can do off the bench. "I feel like there’s no front-rower who can turn the tide of a game off the bench like he can," Yeo said.

"You can feel that he gives everyone a boost of energy when he comes on. He gives everyone a shot of adrenaline with the way he carries the ball when everyone else is tired, and there’s no one else who can do that."

with NCA Newswire