NRL News: Fresh vision shows Broncos reacting to Leniu taunts, Savage can bring X-factor on wing


Fresh vision has emerged of the moment Roosters prop Spencer Leniu sledges Broncos five-eighth Ezra Mam with the rising star’s teammate Billy Walters also reacting to the verbal spray.

Leniu and Mam both appear to be mouthing off at each other and Walters, after passing the ball, from dummy-half, shoots out of play to confront the Roosters prop following the initial taunting.

When there is a break in play a short time later, Mam made his formal complaint to referee Adam Gee that the former Panthers forward had called him a monkey and the incident was placed on report.

There is no audio from the incident available at the moment.

Leniu has been referred directly to a judiciary hearing next Tuesday and if he pleads not guilty to the charge, Walters will not be called on to give evidence.

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

However, if he pleads his innocence, the Brisbane hooker is likely to testify over what he heard and why he and Mam reacted on the field.

Leniu is likely to cop a ban of at least four weeks with some experts calling for a much heftier sentence if he shows no remorse.

He was swamped by media at Sydney Airport on Tuesday but 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.

“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.”

Tensions between the two teams remained high in the early hours of Sunday morning in Las Vegas, with players exchanging words as they passed each other at the Hilton at Resorts World.

Leniu was ushered down the corridor by club staff after words were exchanged with Mam again and centre Kotoni Staggs. The teams were sharing the same floor at the hotel.

Mam told referee Gee “he called me a monkey” late in the second half of the Broncos’ 20-10 loss to the Roosters on Saturday night. The five-eighth told Broncos officials later he was adamant he had heard the remark.

Savage ready to put on a show in new role

After spending a year in the NRL wilderness, Canberra young gun Xavier Savage is ready to put on a show.

The 21-year-old excitement machine will return to the top grade for the first time since round 10 last year when the Raiders try to upset Newcastle away from home on Thursday night.

Savage looked to have made the No.1 jersey his own in 2022 with a 19-game, seven-try campaign, to the point Canberra released former fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad from his contract early so he could head back to the Warriors.

But the Cairns product would make just one first-grade appearance in 2023, breaking his jaw and struggling with a hamstring niggle, before playing 13 games in the NSW Cup while reinventing himself as a winger.

Coach Ricky Stuart thinks Savage has found his feet with a monster pre-season, the youngster feeling comfortable in his shift away from fullback.

“I’ve worked my butt off and got to this point now and I’m happy with where I’m at,” Savage told AAP.

“It was just a safer option coming back from my jaw and then just slowly building into it, and I just couldn’t get there with the niggles I had with my hamstrings as well.

“I was trying to slowly build into going back to fullback, but I just couldn’t quite get there towards the end.

“I decided to stay there in that wing position. I just feel like I’m an outside back, anywhere I can use my speed, I’m happy.”

Stuart said his young talent’s recent training block was the best he’d produced at the club.

Xavier Savage. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

“He creates excitement … he’s a young Indigenous boy who had to find his feet,” he said. “He’s worked really hard, and hard work gets you results. 

“Sometimes it’s a young boy who has to realise his potential, but also to have some belief in his potential … and some belief and confidence in his ability.”

Veteran back Jordan Rapana will start the season in the No.1 jumper, and Savage’s future in the Canberra side isn’t locked in, with versatile Seb Kris and 18-year-old fullback Chevy Stewart watching on from the sidelines.

But that depth is what Savage attributed his recent gains to as he fights to stay in first grade.

“There’s been a really big jump in competitiveness around the club, with a lot more younger boys here,” he said.

“The balance with the younger and older boys has been pretty good, helping each other grow as players and just making each other work harder.

“There’s been a good battle going on, but all for the right reasons.”

with AAP

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