Mal Meninga sorry but labels incident 'a storm in a teacup'
QUEENSLAND coach Mal Meninga says it is 'ludicrious' his eviction from a Brisbane bar has become national news.
The incident, which occurred while he was celebrating the birthdays of Maroons stars Billy Slater and Cameron Smith, has made headlines, particularly in Sydney press.
Speaking at a press conference at Palmer Coolum Resort, where the Queensland team is training, Meninga said he was dismayed at the national attention over what he called a storm in a teacup.
"That national TV uses it as a lead story this morning I find quite ludicrous really when you have got some more important things going on,'' Meninga said.
The Maroons coach said he recognised that going behind the bar area to get a beer was the wrong the thing to do and he apologised for the action.
He said he had had a few beers through the evening but he wasn't drunk.
Many on Twitter have jumped to the defence of the Queensland coach, including swimmer Melanie Schlanger.
"Who's more embarrassed today? Mal Meninga or the journos who broke this "story" - another storm in a teacup from Aussie media,'' Schlanger tweeted.
Meninga said the incident was "very, very minor''.
He said there was no fight or row.
"I did walk behind the behind to ask for a beer.''
"I was not intoxicated. I was not assisted from the bar at all.''
"I left of my own accord with a couple of fellows who tried to protest.''
Fairfax reported Meninga's exit from the Down Under Bar and Grill was 'clearly at the low end of the scale in terms of seriousness, but the timing is unfortunate'.
NRL officials, who were kept informed on developments throughout Wednesday, will speak further with Queensland officials on Thursday.
Meninga admitted he had erred, telling Fairfax Media: ''We were celebrating Billy and Smithy's 30th and some of us went to a place called the Down Under Bar.
"I had a beer, then another beer and it was pretty busy so I just went behind the bar and asked for another beer and they said, 'You're not allowed to be there.' I said 'Fair enough' and then the manager came and said I had to go, so I went.
''I wasn't intoxicated. I left of my own volition really. It wasn't an issue. I didn't even argue. I realised I'd done the wrong thing and probably shouldn't have done it so I said 'Fair enough' and left.
"It was as simple as that. In effect, I acted responsibly. Some people will argue, 'What are you doing out at one o'clock in the morning' but please, I'm an adult. I wasn't in trouble or anything. I did the right thing. I've got nothing to hide.''