‘Know your circle’: Spencer Leniu breaks silence on racism ban ahead of Origin debut

  • Leniu ready for backlash in first State of Origin game for the Blues
  • Roosters prop was suspended for racially abusing Ezra Mam

NSW debutant Spencer Leniu has broken his silence on the Las Vegas racism storm, thanking the Sydney Roosters for standing by him when it would have been easier for the club to wash their hands of him. Leniu said he had no issue with the prospect of being booed in his State of Origin debut for the Blues at Accor Stadium in Sydney next Wednesday.

The 23-year-old’s Origin debut will be just his fourth game since returning from an eight-match suspension for labelling Brisbane’s Ezra Mam “a monkey” in the US. Mam is part of Queensland’s extended squad, while Broncos teammates Patrick Carrigan, Reece Walsh and Selwyn Cobbo are all part of the Maroons’ starting 17.

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James Tedesco axed by NSW with J’maine Hopgood to debut for Queensland in State of Origin I

  • Dylan Edwards gets nod in Blues’ No 1 jersey for game in Sydney
  • Queensland give J’maine Hopgood debut, drop David Fifita

Michael Maguire has begun his NSW coaching tenure with a boom-or-bust call, axing captain James Tedesco and picking Dylan Edwards for State of Origin I, while Queensland will debut Parramatta forward J’maine Hopgood.

Maguire confirmed the shock call on Sunday night, dropping the incumbent Australian Test captain from his team and naming Jake Trbojevic as Blues skipper. Nicho Hynes has been named as halfback despite concerns over a lingering calf issue, while Jarome Luai has been recalled to partner him at five-eighth.

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Wayne Bennett confirms deal with South Sydney while eying future with NRL expansion team

  • Coach confirms return to Rabbitohs from 2025 on three-year contract
  • Bennett, 74, mooted to coach into his 80s with NRL expansion team

Wayne Bennett will coach South Sydney from 2025 and keep his options open beyond that with an expansion team as he prepares for a “secret meeting” with Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly.

The 74-year-old Dolphins coach is tipped to agree to a three-year deal with the Rabbitohs but his coaching career may go longer with an expansion franchise.

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Nathan Cleary set to miss State of Origin series due to hamstring injury

  • NSW Blues’ half-back expected to be sidelined for eight weeks
  • Playmaker re-injured hamstring in Penrith’s win over Canterbury

NSW half-back Nathan Cleary could miss the entire State of Origin series after scans confirmed a grade two hamstring injury that will sideline him for eight weeks. The champion Penrith playmaker re-injured his right hamstring in ther Panthers’ 16-10 win over Canterbury on Friday night in a devastating blow for the Blues, who have a number of other key players sidelined through injury.

Cleary left the field just before half-time after hurting the hamstring for a second time is as many months, with the Panthers issuing a statement on Sunday confirming the diagnosis. “Scans revealed a grade 2 hamstring tear which will see Cleary ruled out for eight weeks,” the club said in a statement.

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