Rugby league, Indigenous, and Queensland legend Johnathan Thurston has slammed the NRL over the eight-game punishment the NRL judiciary handed Spencer Leniu on Monday night.

Pleading guilty to calling Ezra Mam a 'monkey', the hearing, which took a little over two hours to reach a verdict, punished the Sydney Roosters recruit with an eight-week suspension.

However, Thurston - regarded as one of the best Indigenous players in rugby league history - believes that he should have been given a minimum 12-week suspension.

“There is only one way that term is used and that is racially,” Thurston told The Today Show.

“The NRL had a great opportunity to make a stand, not only for the game but for society as well. I think the game has failed in this instance.

“I don't think eight weeks is sufficient for what has been said and the mental scars that have been brought up, and what our culture has endured since the history of colonisation.

“I thought it was great opportunity to go 12 weeks and a blanket ban for all racial vilification if you're found guilty.”

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 10: Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis of Indigenous All Stars look on before the game during the NRL All Stars match between the 2017 Harvey Norman All Stars and the NRL World All Stars at McDonald Jones Stadium on February 10, 2017 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Although Leniu was sincere throughout the entire hearing, his conduct from the Las Vegas match came into question after he initially told Triple M that it was “all fun and games” and the slur should have remained on the field.

However, Leniu clarified that his interview post-game resulted from not understanding the term.

“I was looking at probably 12 weeks would have been sufficient for racial vilification on the field,” Thurston added.

“I understand he has owned up to what he said, but the NRL we have the Indigenous all stars match, Indigenous round ….We are saying and doing all the right things but I definitely don't think the crime has fit the punishment.

“Quite emotional talking about bit. It has certainly opened up a lot of scars for our people. I know Spencer has come out and owned it like he has, he apologised to Ezra.

“I spoke to Ezra after the match to check on him and his well being.

"He was pretty shattered about it all. He has great family support around him and players around him as well.

"I thought it was a great opportunity to make a statement and I don't think the eight weeks is sufficient.”