Meninga finds funny side after bar incident

LAINE CLARK
Last updated 19:19 20/06/2013

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Would any other Queensland hotel ask Mal Meninga to leave if he stepped behind the bar and asked for a beer?

As one wag put it, Meninga has surely earned VIP service at every licensed venue in the state after masterminding seven straight State of Origin titles.

Certainly Meninga tried to find the funny side of the after hours incident that had snowballed into serious ramifications by Thursday.

Even his arrival drew smiles at a packed media conference he called after he was asked to leave a Brisbane hotel early on Wednesday morning.

Watching Meninga negotiate his way via the Sunshine Coast team camp's traditional transport mode - bicycle - was something to behold.

Looking up at the row of TV cameras zeroing in on him, Meninga laughed: "Good thing I am wearing a helmet".

His comic timing was impressive but the same could not be said for his departure from the Brisbane establishment where he was celebrating Queensland teammates Billy Slater and Cameron Smith's 30th birthdays.

It was a bad look after publicly claiming he was fed up with rugby league's image being tarnished by alcohol-fuelled off-field incidents.

Meninga reckoned he had gone out as minder for Maroons assistant Allan Langer, who was infamously photographed dancing in his underwear at another Brisbane inner-city hotel in 2010.

"I was there trying to look after him but I got kicked out," Meninga smiled.

Unlike the image of Langer's semi-naked table dancing three years ago, Meninga expected his incident to be quickly forgotten as his team prepares for a must-win Origin II clash in Brisbane next week.

"This will end it all surely today. I'm being upfront; I'm being honest," Meninga said.

Meninga understood why the NRL had asked for a report on the incident - but not the media's coverage of it.

"I think it's fair they ask for a report. I'm just giving it publicly instead of behind the scenes and on a piece of paper," he said.

"(But) this is not the first time we have gone out to have a beer.

"And we've never been in trouble - still not in trouble to be honest with you.

"If you call walking behind a bar in trouble then heaven forbid. That's where society's gone to.

"Because I have a profile all of a sudden it is news."

Still, Meninga could see the lighter side of his backpackers' bar incident before making a smoother departure on his bike.

"I was too old, that was the problem," he smiled.

"What's an old man doing in a young person's bar? Please."

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- AAP

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