A day after fellow NRL player Russell Packer was jailed for two years for assault, Canterbury Bulldogs player Reni Maitua has pleaded not guilty to assaulting a taxi driver.
Maitua, 31, appeared before Waverley Local Court on Tuesday where his lawyer, Danny Eid, pleaded not guilty to one count of common assault on his behalf.
Mr Eid said he would be seeking to make an application that Maitua be dealt with under Section 32 of the Mental Health Act.
Under this section, charges can be dismissed, either entirely or with conditions, including undergoing treatment.
Maitua is charged with assaulting a taxi driver in the early hours of November 25.
Police allege Maitua was picked up in inner-city Darlinghurst and asked the driver to take him to Daceyville in Sydney’s southeast before allegedly becoming abusive on the journey.
Maitua previously apologised for his role in the alleged incident and his “poor behaviour”.
In Downing Centre Local Court on Monday, Newcastle Knights player Russell Packer was left stunned after a magistrate handed down a fixed two-year jail term for assault.
Packer pleaded guilty to assaulting a man after a drunken row over cigarettes.
Packer punched a man several times as he lay on the ground and then stomped on his head, the court was told, leaving the victim with two fractured facial bones.
Maitua was suspended from all duties by the Bulldogs after he was charged, initially putting his career in doubt.
However, the one-time Australia representative was reinstated last month under strict conditions, including that he agree to a complete alcohol ban.
He rejoined the Bulldogs last year after previously playing for them between 2004 and 2008.
Maitua’s case will return to court on February 18.
Outside court, Mr Eid said Maitua’s mental health was “not too good”.
“But we’re seeking the appropriate treatment that he needs and he is committed to that treatment,” he told reporters.
“We’ll defend the allegations.
“We’re confident in due course that the court will give him a proper hearing.”