An emotional Dane Cordner - older brother of NRL star Boyd - has broken down in court while explaining he feared drunken Newcastle Knights player Jacob Saifiti before he punched the prop in the face outside a pub.
Cordner, a 29-year-old coal miner, told Newcastle Local Court he yelled at the aggressive Saifiti to stay away from him after a heated exchange in December 2018.
Then, when he turned around, the 195 centimetre-tall Fijian international rugby league player was right in front of him.
"I was scared. I had to do it (punch Saifiti). I was scared," Cordner said on Wednesday.
"I f***ing just instinctively pushed and hit him."
Cordner, of Adamstown, has pleaded not guilty to causing reckless grievous bodily harm to Saifiti after 2am on December 2 outside the Greenroof Hotel in Hamilton.
Saifiti fell awkwardly after being punched and broke his ankle. Cordner claims he was acting in self-defence.
Cordner said that earlier that night he tried to get 23-year-old Saifiti to leave the pub because he was drunk.
Cordner - who'd had eight schooners and six vodkas - said if his high-profile brother had been in the same situation as Saifiti he'd have wanted someone to tell him it was time to go home.
But he claimed Saifiti waved him away, telling him: "No, f*** off. I don't care. Don't worry about me lad. I'm protected here."
Cordner told the court he had seen Saifiti grab another patron by the scruff of the neck in the pokies room but nothing had happened to the Knights prop.
Hotel staff have denied Knights players were given preferential treatment.
Cordner told the court Saifiti had been coming towards him outside the pub yelling: "Come on Cordner. Come on c***, have a go now."
He said he told Saifiti: "F*** off, leave me alone. F*** off, stay away from me", before he turned around and the Knights prop was right in front of him.
Cordner denied punching Saifiti as payback for an incident in 2016 when he claimed the Knights player had attacked him, punching him in the face and slamming him into a street sign.
The alleged attack was never reported to the police.
Cordner said he was not looking for a fight on December 2 and only wanted to get away from Saifiti.
Greenroof Hotel licensee Angus Harper had earlier told the court he could not explain how 10 seconds of CCTV footage from the pokies room that night was missing - seven seconds from one file and three seconds from another.
Mr Harper said the pub was on good terms with the Knights and used a number of players in promotional material. But he denied they were given special treatment.
There was a meeting between the pub's general manager, former Knights player Cheyne McIntyre, and the Knights recruitment and welfare manager Dean Noonan, after Saifiti was punched.
Mr Harper believed Mr McIntyre and Mr Noonan would have looked at the CCTV footage but he couldn't recall if it was the day after the incident.
Asked if he'd been selective in the footage provided to police, Mr Harper replied: "No."
Mr McIntyre told the court he had not shown the CCTV footage to anyone but the police.
He saved snippets of the footage he thought would be relevant and provided it to police.
The hearing, before magistrate Robert Stone, continues on Thursday.
Australian Associated Press