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Roosters take open, honest path on multicultural talks

Scott Bailey -

Lindsay Collins has revealed how Sydney Roosters players of all races were able to hold frank and honest conversations about slurs in the days after the Spencer Leniu scandal.

Collins is the first Roosters player to speak publicly about the situation, admitting the club-wide fallout had even weighed him down and made him feel as if he was somehow implicated.

The Roosters will attempt to draw a line under the drama when they take on Manly on Sunday, with Leniu banned for eight matches at the NRL judiciary this week.

But the club have attempted to take whatever small positives they can out of the incident, through better education.

Players made a point to discuss the "monkey" slur when they returned to Sydney, in what was largely viewed as an educational session.

"We had our talk about it and we were all pretty clear, comfortable and open about it all," Collins said. 

"It was getting more of an understanding around it. It wasn't too deep. They were just honest questions (being asked) and people answered them honestly.

"And then it was educating ourselves on what's acceptable, what's not acceptable.

"Because behind those four walls you can get carried away and be a bit playful and stuff. But when you're out in the public, it's obviously (about) being mindful."

In the Roosters' top-30 squad alone, the club has Indigenous representative Connor Watson and Dom Young of Jamaican heritage. 

There are also a number of players who have represented Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Maori All Stars.

Collins said those players had spoken freely on the issue, and were open to answering questions and educating teammates.

"It was Connor, the Polynesian boys as well," Collins said.

"A lot of questions were directed to those sort of boys and just them answering honestly, and us learning from it.

"There's a lot of negativity towards (the incident), as there should be, it's not what we want in our game. 

"But it's also let's learn from this as an NRL, as a team, as people, as a nation. We need to get better at this stuff."

The conversations happened as Leniu told the judiciary panel slurs were regularly used as banter in NRL clubs, and claimed he was unaware of the racial connotations of the term "monkey".

Roosters coach Trent Robinson also noted the need for change this week, believing the situation was largely a language issue across multiple levels of society that needed to be addressed.

Collins admitted he too had felt the weight of the drama, after learning of it following the win over Brisbane in Las Vegas.

"When that happened, it felt like I did it as well - if that's not going to get taken out of context," Collins said. 

"We're a club, we're a team and we're one in, all in."

But regardless, the Kangaroos Test prop insisted there was no risk of a hangover against Manly from the incident.

"We've (put a line under it) by having the chat with ourselves and our team," Collins said. 

"Footy is good because a new week comes quick. So you have to put it aside. You can't worry about it. 

"You can use tricks and tools by staying off social media and not reading into too much stuff. 

"But for us, once that (NRL) sentence happened, it was pretty much done after that. It is what it is and we'll move on and move forward."

Scott Bailey - AAP


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