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Indigenous Australian rugby league star accuses rival of using racial slur during game in Las Vegas

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Ezra Mam playing for the Brisbane Broncos at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Saturday. (Photo: David Becker/AP via CNN Newsource)

(CNN) — Indigenous Australian rugby league star Ezra Mam has accused an opponent of using a racial slur during a game in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Brisbane Broncos’ Mam made a complaint against Sydney Roosters forward Spencer Leniu during the second half of the National Rugby League’s (NRL) season-opener.

CNN affiliate Nine News reported Leniu had allegedly called Mam a “monkey.”

Leniu has since been referred to the NRL’s disciplinary body over the alleged incident and has been charged with contrary conduct, according to NRL.com.

The NRL judiciary panel will now hear the case before determining the outcome for Leniu, the league said.

Asked by Nine News about what happened during the match, Leniu played down the incident as “a little bit of banter.”

“It was all just fun and games on the field, a little banter on the field … If they want to do anything, we stay in the same hotel, so I’m right there,” he said.

Meanwhile, Broncos coach Kevin Walters told reporters after the game that Mam was “adamant” a racial slur had been used, adding his player was “pretty upset” after the game.

Team captain Adam Reynolds said the Broncos were supporting Mam, adding that he didn’t initially hear the incident himself.

“It’s certainly nasty to hear any sort of racism … Not in this day and age. You wouldn’t think it’s still out there,” Reynolds told reporters after the match. “It’s a bit of a shock.”

Roosters coach Trent Robinson told reporters he had not spoken to Leniu about the incident in the locker room after the game.

“I don’t know what happened … He [Mam] obviously made the complaint but that doesn’t mean that it’s right. It will go through the formal process as it should,” Robinson said.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Leniu was involved in a verbal confrontation with Broncos players the night after the match, with both teams staying in the same hotel.

The match was the second of two games being played in Las Vegas as the NRL attempts to increase global interest in the sport. The Roosters won the match 20-10. More than 40,000 spectators were in attendance at the Allegiant Stadium, according to the league.

“There is no place in sport for these types of slurs. We pride ourselves on being inclusive. It’s unacceptable in this day and age,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo told Nine News.

“The process will unfold. We are aware of the issue and it’s gonna be dealt with.”

CNN has contacted the two clubs and the NRL for comment.

The-CNN-Wire
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