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Souths icon calls for Ben Te'o to be stood down

WAYNE HEMING
Last updated 19:32 24/05/2013
Ben Te'o
Getty Images
CLAIMS REFUTED: Ben Te'o has denied any wrongdoing after a woman was allegedly assaulted.

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South Sydney icon John Sattler says NRL officials must stand down Ben Te'o immediately for the good of the game.

Regarded as one of the toughest men to play rugby league, Sattler also believes Te'o should come forward and tell his side of the story.

Te'o was grilled for hours by the NRL's integrity unit on Thursday over allegations by a Brisbane woman that he punched her in the face last month, fracturing her eye socket.

The woman has indicated she would go to police next week and press charges.

The NRL's integrity unit was expected to continue its probe by interviewing Brisbane Broncos fullback Corey Norman and Newcastle's Darius Boyd, who were allegedly in the Brisbane house on the day of the alleged assault.

Sattler - a Rabbitohs legend who played with a broken jaw in the club's 1970 grand final - said the NRL had no choice but to stand Te'o down until their investigations had been completed.

"I'm against anybody laying a hand on women," said Sattler.

"I'm against that no matter what.

"If, after investigating both sides of the story they find he is in the wrong, they should hit him (Te'o) with the biggest thing they can hit him with.

"If it were up to me, I would stand him down for the good of the game."

Petero Civoniceva, one of the code's elder statesmen, told AAP it was time for rugby league to stamp its foot down and enforce a zero tolerance to violence against women.

"It's a difficult situation for the game to be in, especially if there's a police investigation to come out of it," the former Queensland and Australian representative said.

"We've just come out of the Women in League round and any issue like this we have to be very strict in the way we deal with it."

The big-hearted prop said the investigation had to get to the bottom of the allegations.

"We have supporters of both sexes, young and old, and we owe it to them to make sure the investigation is done properly and thoroughly and we make the right decisions."

Te'o's Rabbitohs teammates said the off-field drama hadn't impacted their preparations for Monday's clash with Cronulla, but were keen to see the issue resolved quickly.

"As a team, we're just trying to stay focused on what's ahead of us and prepare for the game," Rabbitohs enforcer Sam Burgess said.

"Ben's going through the processes he needs to with the club and the NRL and hopefully it will be resolved pretty soon."

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Five-eighth John Sutton echoed his teammates' sentiments.

"He's going through a bit of a difficult time at the moment and hopefully him and the club can get all that stuff sorted and we can just get on with playing footy," Sutton said.

NRL chief executive Dave Smith said the investigation was being carried out in a timely manner.

"I know it's going quickly and thoroughly, I know there's still some work to do," Smith told reporters, adding that he doesn't expect the probe to last weeks.

"I'm getting daily reports so I'm confident of the way that it's tracking, but at the end of the day we're getting to the bottom of it and we're getting the facts."

Smith believes Souths properly assessed the issue when it was first raised.

- AAP

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