NRL star Dylan Walker has vowed to get his life back on track after pleading guilty to assault.
The Manly centre, 26, escaped without a conviction on Friday after admitting he shoved a stranger in a drunken altercation late last year outside a pizzeria on Sydney’s northern beaches.
“I’ve got people that look towards me and I’ve just got to make better decisions,” he said outside Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court.
“It’s an opportunity for me to be a better person, a better role model, better father, son and uncle.”
The matter will now fall to the NRL’s integrity unit, with no rush for them to determine a penalty given he is still sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Off-contract at the end of this year, Walker has been told by coach Des Hasler he still wants him at the Sea Eagles but knows that future is still far from secure.
The rugby star had just ordered a pepperoni and Nutella pizza from Little Italy in Narraweena on the evening of November 1 when he approached two women standing near their car then opened the passenger door.
“Can’t I get a lift?” he asked, when the brother of one woman came out from the eatery to help her.
The man offered to order him a taxi or an Uber, but Walker came towards his face and said: “Why are you acting hard for?”
The man continued to offer to order him a ride and said he was just trying to help.
Walker pushed him in the chest, causing him to step back.
The four-time Kangaroos Test player was so drunk at the time of the assault that he only remembers it by looking at video of the incident, the court heard.
After one of the women called triple zero, Walker was arrested and taken to Manly Police Station.
Mr Hasler was called to the station at 1.15am as his support person.
Walker was impassive in court as magistrate Vivien Swain described the assault as a “frightening scene” and an “unnecessary confrontation”.
Walker had been set to fight the charge in a two-day trial starting on Friday but offered to plead guilty on Thursday in exchange for prosecutors dropping another assault charge.
The magistrate decided not to convict Walker, finding he was of good character and was remorseful.
He regularly feeds the homeless and is a loving father to his two young children, his lawyer Richard Pontello SC submitted.
While the assault was in the lower range of seriousness it would have been “very frightening” for the victim, the magistrate said.
She imposed conditions for 18 months, including that he is required to stay out of legal trouble and receive treatment.
“I just want to let people know that there’s an avenue to be a better person and seek help,” Walker told reporters.
He said he had apologised to his victim, who was not injured in the assault.
The former South Sydney Rabbitoh was stood down in early 2019 as he fought the accusation he’d assaulted his fiancee, Alexandra Ivkovic, in December 2018.
In that incident, Ms Ivkovic called triple zero and accused the NRL player of pulling her hair and causing her to fall as she held a baby.
She recanted the story later that night, saying she’d overreacted.
Walker returned to the field after being found not guilty by a magistrate in May 2019.