Broncos welfare officers support Mam ahead of Souths

Joel Gould |

Brisbane No.6 Ezra Mam is being supported in tough times by the club’s welfare officers.
Brisbane No.6 Ezra Mam is being supported in tough times by the club’s welfare officers.

Brisbane coach Kevin Walters says Ezra Mam is “right to go” against South Sydney as the club’s welfare officers rally around the star five-eighth.

At Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night, Mam will play his first NRL game since being called a monkey by Sydney Roosters prop Spencer Leniu in the round-one clash in Las Vegas.

Leniu was suspended for eight matches by the NRL judiciary on Monday night.

The Broncos are well aware that the hurt caused by the incident, and subsequent coverage in the public sphere, will linger for the Indigenous star, who is just 21.

For that reason having qualified support around him is a priority.

The club has two experienced welfare officers in Adam Walsh and Steve Parle who have supported Mam through tough times and will continue to do so.

Walsh looks after the senior squad, while Parle assists the academy players. 

Parle has had a long association with Mam since he was 14.

When Mam bought a house in Ipswich several years ago, Parle installed an irrigation system for him. 

While Mam was in Las Vegas he called Parle to tell him lawn grubs were attacking his garden, so Parle ventured out and sprayed them.

The ties that bind are strong and will be a source of strength for Mam.

Walters said he was making no comments about the decision handed down by the judiciary. 

He was asked whether he agreed with league great Johnathan Thurston that Leniu’s penalty was not sufficient.

“I will leave that to the NRL and the powers that be,” Walters said.

He confirmed Mam was right to play against the Rabbitohs on Thursday.

“He’s been fine, he’s been good. He is ready to go,” Walters said, adding that the entire squad was galvanised.

“We put it to bed last week when it was handed over to the NRL.

“Our focus in the last three or four days has been on the game tomorrow night, which is really important to us as a club. We have to get our focus on that.”

Broncos assistant coach Matt Ballin said Mam was focused on the task at hand.

“He is a young man with a lot of energy and flamboyance and he has been great around the club,” Ballin said.

“He comes in and does his review with me defensively and with (assistant coach) Lee Briers attack-wise. 

“We haven’t really noticed a change. He has some stuff he is going through, but he is pretty resilient.

“He is a great personality to have at our club and brings a lot of energy. That’s why the players, staff and club love him.”

Club legend Steve Renouf is an ambassador for the Deadly Choices organisation, which promotes health lifestyles in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

At the launch of the Deadly Choices partnership with the Broncos on Monday, he told AAP the club had the right focus.

“The Broncos recognise that right now the key is support for Ezra,” Renouf said.

“Their welfare officers can keep having chats to him and getting around him because there is a lot being said out in the public by people who have varying opinions. 

“I have contacted Ezra to say I am here for him. 

“In tough times I leaned on (former Broncos coach) Wayne Bennett and he was always there for me. I had a chat to Wayne the other day about what is going on at the moment and he was there for me again. I still lean on Wayne.”