Judiciary gaffe ‘weird’, but no issue for Jarome Luai

Scott Bailey |

Jarome Luai (pictured) took no offence at being wrongly mentioned in the Spencer Leniu hearing.
Jarome Luai (pictured) took no offence at being wrongly mentioned in the Spencer Leniu hearing.

Jarome Luai insists he took no offence at being wrongly mentioned in the Spencer Leniu hearing, as the Sydney Roosters prop prepares to make his NRL return.

Leniu will play his first game in two months against the Warriors on Sunday, after copping an eight-match ban for a racial slur aimed at Ezra Mam in Las Vegas.

Roosters players have made no secret of the fact they expect Leniu to want to make it up to them this week, with the prop feeling he has a debt to repay.

Spencer Leniu.
Spencer Leniu will play his first game in two months when the Roosters take on the Warriors. (HANDOUT/NRL PHOTOS)

Leniu’s former Penrith teammates have also held close counsel for the front-rower in recent months, after he copped the ban in his first game for the Roosters.

But for Luai the case also hit close to home.

Leniu was wrongly named as “Spencer Luai” by the NRL’s lawyer early in the hearing, who also incorrectly stated the Samoan international had played for Tonga.

Luai said the confusion around the Polynesian names did not worry him, but he believed it could have offended others in the same situation.

“I saw that. It was a bit weird,” Luai said, speaking for the first time since the March hearing.

“I don’t even know why my name got thrown in that conversation. I don’t know who it was.

“I’m a pretty easygoing guy, so I just had a laugh about it. But they would have been pretty harsh on things like that if someone else did it.

“It didn’t faze me, but if it was somebody else in that situation, they could have taken it differently.”

The issue was raised by the Roosters after the hearing, and NRL’s counsel Lachlan Gyles later apologised to Leniu.

Meanwhile, Luai said he and several others had been in contact with Leniu, and expected an on-field response from the firebrand forward.

“We always talk, Critta (Stephen Crichton), Spenny, all the boys that have left. We’re still pretty close and in touch,” Luai said.

“He’s raring to go, he’s keen to get back out there and his team’s doing well as well. He’ll be a good asset for the Roosters again.

“He’s a tough dude, and it’s obviously a lesson. He’s a young guy and something he’ll learn, so he’ll be sweet.”

Roosters players also expected Leniu to make an immediate impression on return.

“I know what it’s like being suspended,” lock Victor Radley said.

“You feel a bit out of the team, you feel neglected. It’s not nice … and he’s had eight weeks of it.

“But from when that last game is played and you’re back off suspension, it’s like a weight off your shoulders and you just can’t wait to pay the boys back a bit, so I’m sure he’s going to be on.”

AAP