A young Englishman accused of king-hitting Australia's rugby sevens captain in Sydney's east says he was "in good spirits" before a bout of aggressive name-calling began and he "lashed out" in reply, a court has heard.
Sam Oliver, 23, has pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and reckless grievous bodily harm against rugby veteran James Stannard, 35, outside a Coogee kebab shop in the early hours of March 30.
It is not in dispute he punched the then-national skipper but Oliver testified on Tuesday it was "for self protection" after Stannard allegedly threw the first blow into his left eye.
CCTV footage shows the pair separately leaving Coogee Bay Hotel after security staff evicted patrons at 3am.
Prosecutor Burton Ko argues "there was only one hit" and Oliver's injuries were sustained when he was tackled into a car by current captain Lewis Holland, who had been out with Stannard, as he tried to run from the scene.
The players were farewelling then-coach Andrew Friend, who helped to detain the alleged assailant.
In Downing Centre Local Court, Oliver said he was "in good spirits" and waiting for his housemate to get food from the kebab shop when Stannard - "a man I didn't know" - separated from his own group and approached.
The prosecutor asked: "What did he (Stannard) say?"
Oliver replied: "Here's another Pommy c***."
"I was just taken back. He wasn't a friend or anyone I knew. I didn't know how he knew I was Pommy," he said.
"I remember I said something along the lines of 'You're all Pommies down the line' just to give it a bit back."
Oliver said Stannard was "getting aggressive, puffing his chest out" before it escalated beyond name-calling.
"His whole body language changed and I was hit," he said, admitting he'd had eight to 10 pints when he "lashed out in retaliation".
"I must have just instinctively tried to protect myself."
Medical records referred to in court show Stannard was also intoxicated with a blood alcohol reading of 0.23.
The court was played video taken from a police body-worn camera on Constable Maria Gregory, who interviewed the British national shortly after the alleged Good Friday assault.
In the footage, Oliver says he got into an argument about "Pommies in general" and "it got a bit nasty".
"He hit me before I hit him ... look at my eye. I hit him back and then I ran away," the then-22-year-old says.
The machine worker, supported by his father in court, is on a working holiday visa until September 21.
Stannard missed the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April due to his head injuries and later retired.
Holland told the hearing on Monday he "heard a bone-crushing sound" when his teammate was struck and fell.
Magistrate Richard Funston is expected to deliver his judgment on Wednesday.
Australian Associated Press