NRL: Cloud over Te'o leaves Meninga in the dark

Mal Meninga is not certain if Ben Te'o will be available. Photo / Getty Images
Mal Meninga is not certain if Ben Te'o will be available. Photo / Getty Images

Queensland State of Origin coach Mal Meninga might not know until the weekend the make-up of his side to play New South Wales in game one in Sydney on Wednesday.

The NRL's Integrity Unit has been unable to interview Brisbane woman Katie Lewis who gave a statement to police on Wednesday, alleging South Sydney forward Ben Te'o punched her in the face last month, leaving her bleeding and with a fractured eye socket. The unit is understood to have set up meetings with the woman only to have her cancel.

Queensland police reopened their investigation into Lewis' allegations after she made her statement on Wednesday, the day Te'o joined the Maroons in camp at their Coolum base on the Sunshine Coast.

He and injured Newcastle fullback Darius Boyd (bruised ankle) were immediately put on ice by Queensland officials concerned their media free-for-all with players could suddenly turn into a circus. Meninga supported the decision to withdraw both players from interviews.

"They have had enough media scrutiny for a lifetime, especially one of them," he said.

Te'o trained with the side on Wednesday while Boyd, who was confined to a moon-boot, was restricted to some boxing work.

Meninga said Te'o would continue to prepare until he received a directive from the NRL or the QRL advising him otherwise. The whole situation has created an uneasy mood within the camp with the possibility Te'o might yet be stood down if police decide to lay charges.

It also opens the door for police to come knocking and disrupt Meninga's preparations should they want to question Te'o or Boyd who, along with Brisbane fullback Corey Norman, were in the Brisbane house when the 22 year-old woman claimed she was assaulted.

It's anything but ideal for Meninga with history showing the winner of game one usually takes the series, but he said he would not oppose any moves to sanction Te'o if that was the call.

Canberra enforcer Josh Papalii is on standby, while Melbourne flyer Justin O'Neill is Boyd's shadow if his ankle fails to come good by the weekend.

Canterbury's Josh Reynolds has been selected on the bench for the NSW side. The Bulldogs five-eighth has edged out South Sydney's John Sutton for the interchange spot vacated by Kurt Gidley, who was ruled out with a foot injury.

Key statistics

Series played: 31; Qld won 17, NSW won 12, drawn 2

Games played: 96; Qld won 51, NSW won 43, drawn 2 *

Points scored: Qld: 1593 (277 tries, 244 goals, 10 field goals), NSW: 1520 (259 tries, 241 goals, 13 field goals)

Origin record in Sydney: Played 39, NSW won 22, Qld won 16, drawn 1

Origin record at ANZ Stadium: Played 19, NSW 13, Qld 5, drawn 1

Leading pointscorers: Mal Meninga (Qld), 161; Michael O'Connor (NSW), 129

Leading tryscorers: Greg Inglis (Qld), 14; Michael O'Connor (NSW), 11

Most games played: Darren Lockyer (Qld), 36; Brad Fittler (NSW), 31

Most player wins: Wally Lewis (Qld), Darren Lockyer (Qld), Petero Civoniceva (Qld), 19; Brad Fittler (NSW), 17

Most consecutive series wins: Queensland 7 (2006-12); NSW 3 (1992-94), (2003-05)

- AAP

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