Mam statement available for NRL in Leniu hearing

Scott Bailey |

Broncos player Ezra Mam has submitted a pre-written statement to the NRL.
Broncos player Ezra Mam has submitted a pre-written statement to the NRL.

Ezra Mam will not be required to attend Spencer Leniu’s judiciary hearing, with pre-written statements instead submitted to help the NRL determine a ban for the Sydney Roosters recruit.

Leniu will front the judiciary on Monday night, after pleading guilty to calling Indigenous star Mam a “monkey” in the NRL’s season-opening double-header in Las Vegas last week.

The Roosters prop’s early plea guarantees he will become the first player banned by the NRL for a racial slur in 19 years, with only the length of the suspension up for debate.

Leniu will be represented by a Roosters legal team and front a panel headed by judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew at the NRL’s Moore Park headquarters.

There had been a thought last week that Mam and other Brisbane players could also attend 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.

Instead, Mam is known to have submitted a pre-written statement to the NRL that can be submitted as evidence by the judiciary on Monday night.

Broncos teammates Payne Haas and Billy Walters are also believed to have submitted statements, which can also be entered by the NRL.

The length of Leniu’s ban will ultimately be determined by two former players who sit on the panel, after hearing suggested suspension lengths from both the NRL and Leniu’s lawyer.

Spencer Leniu
Spencer Leniu, who has already pleaded guilty, will be represented by a Roosters legal team. (HANDOUT/NRL PHOTOS)

The panel will also have the option to take into account Leniu’s guilty plea when considering the ban, which typically reduces punishments by up to 25 per cent.

The NRL’s judiciary has not dealt with a racism scandal in the past decade, with Paul Gallen the last player found guilty of such an act on the field.

He was fined $10,000 in 2009, and he issued a public apology and stood down as Cronulla captain.

Before him, Bryan Fletcher was suspended for one match in 2005 for a racial slur, for which he also apologised and stood down as South Sydney captain.

More recently, Tyrone Peachey accused Mitchell Barnett of a racial slur in 2020, but the NRL’s integrity unit could not uncover conclusive evidence of the comment when reviewing audio and vision of the game.

The judiciary did hand down a four-match ban for a homophobic comment made by Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya in 2022, in the only comparable offence of recent times.

In the AFL, Adelaide forward Taylor Walker was banned for six matches for a racial slur in 2021.

However, that incident did not relate to a match the Crows star was playing in, but rather as he watched an SANFL game in Adelaide.