NRL player Richard Fa'aoso had just learnt that his football career was over and was having "suicidal thoughts" when he led police on a drunken car chase through south-west Sydney following a domestic incident involving his pregnant wife, a court has heard.
The 28-year-old Manly forward pleaded guilty in Campbelltown Local Court on Thursday to not stopping when directed to do so and resisting arrest over an incident on November 24 at Macquarie Fields.
He had previously pleaded guilty to mid-range drink-driving.
He was fined $2000, suspended from driving for nine months and placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond.
Fa'aoso's barrister Michael Sinadinovic told the court that, just prior to the incident, his client had been advised by a medical specialist that a broken neck sustained during a finals game in September meant that he should not "play football ever again".
"At the time of the offence that weighed greatly on his mind because he has no qualifications for any type of skilled work," Mr Sinadinovic said.
"To go from a position of playing football to a position of possible unemployment weighed upon him greatly."
The court heard that Fa'aoso returned home from a night of heavy drinking after hearing the news about his career and became involved in a "dispute" with his pregnant wife during which he grabbed a knife with "thoughts of suicide or self harm".
The 108kg Tongan international also knocked over furniture, kicked a door off its hinges and broke a window before his wife took their two young children and drove to her parents' house.
The domestic dispute continued at this premises in nearby Ingleburn and police were called.
When officers arrived, they tried to stop Fa'aoso as he drove past the premises but he kept driving and a police pursuit began.
Fa'aoso did not break the speed limit, the court heard, but ignored the police's lights, sirens and directions to stop for 2.5 kilometres.
The court heard that he was eventually stopped at Currawong Street, Ingleburn, where he briefly resisted arrest by using his "bulk and strength" to prevent police from getting him out of the car and handcuffing him.
Police discovered that Fa'aoso had "cuts on his hands". This, and comments he made, led them to have such concerns for his welfare they elected to take him to a nearby hospital rather than a police station.
On Thursday, Fa'aoso pleaded guilty to the failure to stop charge and the resist arrest charge.
A charge of malicious damage was withdrawn by police.
Mr Sinadinovic said Fa'aoso wanted to "apologise to the community and police for his behaviour" for which he was "deeply ashamed".
"He is very sorry and embarrassed about what happened," he said.
The 28-year-old was supported in court by his manager, father-in-law, Manly CEO David Perry and a representative from the rugby league player's association.
Magistrate Glenn Walsh noted that Fa'aoso had a previous criminal conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm in 2005 and had committed 16 driving infringements since 2003.
However, he took into account the player's guilty plea and the "difficult circumstances" surrounding the incident.
"I wish you all the best with the upcoming birth of your child," Mr Walsh said.
Fa'aoso made no comment as he left the court.
* Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.