NRL News: ‘Not allowed to comment’ – Leniu tightlipped over racism row, Brimson not stoked about positional switch


Controversial Roosters prop Spencer Leniu did not have much to say when he returned to Sydney amid the firestorm created by his on-field incident with Ezra Mam and subseuqent run-in with him and Brisbane teammates at the team hotel in Las Vegas.

Leniu was swamped by media at Sydney Airport after being referred straight to the NRL judiciary next Tuesday over allegations he racially villified Mam by calling him “a monkey” during the second half of the Roosters’ 20-10 win in the season-opening double-header.

Unlike straight after the match at Allegiant Stadium when he claimed the incident was just banter and that “it’s all fun and games” out in the middle, Leniu was tightlipped when asked about the drama.

He said he was “very happy” to be back home after the 20-10 triumph which was his first for the Roosters after an off-season switch from premiers Penrith.

Spencer Leniu in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

“I’m very happy to be home,” the Samoan international said.

When asked about the Mam incident, he responded: “I’m not allowed to comment on that right now.”

Leniu is facing a hefty ban and potentially a massive fine as well if he is found guilty.

Rabbitohs stars Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker, along with fellow Indigenous All Stars representative, Cronulla half Nicho Hynes, have voiced their support for Mam in the wake of the incident which left him in tears in the sheds after the game.

Hynes was quick to stress Leniu had not been found guilty, he urged the NRL to use the much-publicised incident as a “line in the sand”.

“I’m not just trying to put it all on Spencer, (but) I feel like there needs to be a line in the sand,” Hynes said on Tuesday.

“This will be the moment that it happens. Look, it has to happen.

“Any person in the game, if they get racially vilified by a spectator, they’d want to go hard at them, so I feel like that has to happen with a player.”

Broncos coach Kevin Walters said the players had shown great support for proud Torres Strait Islander Mam, who he praised for standing up for himself.

“That is part of being a Bronco,” Walters said. “All clubs support their peers and their mates when they are under pressure and have an incident happen that is just not tolerable.

“We are a tight group at the Broncos and we support each other in every way. “(Racial slurs) are not tolerated anymore in life or in the community. Rugby league is part of the community.

“Ezra has every right to be upset and stand up for himself as an Indigenous player. “The NRL now are dealing with it, and we are dealing with it in-house with our player Ezra.

“We are getting around him. He is OK, but it was a tough night for him post-game. There is a lot of support around him.”

Ezra Mam celebrates with teammates after scoring in the GF. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Brimson not thrilled to lose fullback spot

AJ Brimson says he wants to play centre for Australia after making a positional switch for the Gold Coast that he admitted to not being “stoked” about.

Brimson will line up at centre in his 100th NRL game for the club in the home clash against St George Illawarra on Saturday night after coach Des Hasler decided that moving him from fullback, his favourite position, was best for the team dynamic.

Keano Kini will play No.1 until Jayden Campbell, who Hasler had earmarked for fullback, returns from a knee injury.

Brimson, 25, played 13 of his 14 games in an injury-impacted 2023 as a custodian. It is a position he occupied for all of 2021 in a career where he has also been utilised as a No.6.

 When asked if his time as a fullback was over, Brimson was honest. “I’d be lying if I said I was stoked to be changing positions,” he said.

“These things happen in footy. If it means we win games, then it’s all worth it. We’ll see how this year goes then we’ll ask these questions again.”

When pressed if he wanted to get back to fullback next year, Brimson outlined the ambition that has led to him representing Queensland in State of Origin footy. “Honestly, I just want to try and win a comp,” he said. “Time will tell.

“At the moment I’m not thinking, hopefully I have a good year so I can play fullback next year. That’s definitely not my attitude.

“I want to play as well as I can and play centre for Origin and Australia and finals for the Titans.”

That last statement will be music to the ears of coach Hasler ahead of a positional move the club hopes will be as successful as that of Valentine Holmes at North Queensland, who also did the same switch.

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

“It’s the same transition,” Brimson said. “We’re similar players. He’s done it quite well.

“I don’t really base my game off him but it’s cool to see other players have done it.”

Brimson said his 100th game for the club would be “a cool milestone” but his focus was on shining in his new role.

“It’s something I’m still learning but it’s exciting,” he said. “Sometimes these things happen in footy. If I was to kick stones, there’s absolutely nothing positive that would come out of that for me or the team.

“I’m pretty keen to try be the best centre I can.”

with AAP

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