NRL 2024: Cronulla star Nicho Hynes shows support for Ezra Mam amid racism claims

Martin GaborNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: Supplied

Indigenous All Stars halfback Nicho Hynes has implored the NRL to take a strong stance against any racial slurs and declared it’s “hard to comprehend” allegations Broncos star Ezra Mam was called a “monkey” by Roosters opponent Spencer Leniu in Las Vegas.

Hynes, who was brandishing his club’s Indigenous jersey on Tuesday in a show of support for Mam, didn’t accuse Leniu, who is set to face the judiciary next week, of making the comment.

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But he stressed that the sport had to have a line-in-the-sand moment to stamp out racism.

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Mam has received support from Indigenous and non-Indigenous players across the league, while his Brisbane teammates reportedly confronted Leniu at the team hotel a few hours after the game.

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Leniu was placed on report and has been referred directly to the judiciary on a contrary conduct charge, with the Roosters recruit not answering questions on the issue when he touched down in Sydney on Tuesday morning.

“It’s hard to comprehend what happened, I’ve reached out to Ezra and Indigenous boys are all behind him,” Hynes.

“We had a really strong All Stars and to see that come out a couple weeks after, to see that happen – it hurts all our feelings.

“What it does do now is it brings up old trauma for our elders and our people who have been through it all before.

“Back in the day our elders did experience a hell of a lot of it and that’s the hardest thing now is that old trauma gets brought up and that’s what’s really upsetting.

“It’s above my pay grade now to deal with that and I’m sure the NRL and whoever’s in charge of giving out punishments will probably do the right thing.

“You don’t really know what to say about it, we just have to support the hell out of Ezra and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Camera IconBrisbane Broncos five-eighth Ezra Mam in the Broncos Indigenous jersey. Adam Head Credit: News Corp Australia
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Camera IconSpencer Leniu arrives back in Sydney after the Las Vegas game. Rohan Kelly Credit: News Corp Australia

Several high-profile players, including Latrell Mitchell, have called for a lengthy ban if Leniu is found guilty, and Hynes echoed those sentiments.

Fans have received harsh punishments for making racist comments, with a spectator at a Penrith game last year receiving an indefinite ban for racially abusing Mitchell.

“They’re going to have to, right?,” Hynes suggested when asked if the NRL had to take a stand against a player found guilty.

“We have spectators and what not making racist comments sometimes and all us players don’t stand for it, so now this is the first time in a while it’s happened (on the field), so there just has to be.

“Even if it wasn’t Spencer, if it was someone else – I’m not just trying to put it all on Spencer – I feel like there needs to be a line in the sand and this will be the moment that it happens. 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 this all just has to happen to the player.”

Originally published as NRL 2024: Cronulla star Nicho Hynes shows support for Ezra Mam amid racism claims

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