A PROMISING Tasmanian AFL player has been warned his career and freedom hang in the balance following a drunken assault.
Western Storm's Darryn Adam Thomas, 21, yesterday pleaded guilty to punching a man after asking if he was gay.
At a contested mention, the Launceston Magistrates Court yesterday heard Thomas was so drunk he couldn't remember the incident.
The footballer had been drinking in a licensed venue in Launceston from where he was ejected, the court heard.
He then began speaking to a man in Invermay Road.
Thomas asked if he was gay, to which the man replied he wasn't.
Thomas then punched him in the head, causing minor facial injuries.
The victim reported it to police and identified Thomas on a photo ID board.
Thomas's lawyer, Mark Doyle, said Western Storm had been helping his client with alcohol and anger issues.
Mr Doyle said Thomas had also been selected to play in an indigenous representative side in Melbourne.
Magistrate Reg Marron said a day didn't go past without a disgraced sportsman appearing in the newspaper.
"I know exactly why you act the way you do, because you get drunk," Mr Marron said.
"So if you want to kiss your career away just keep doing it."
Mr Marron said if Thomas went to jail no club would "touch him with a barge poll".
Asked for a sentence indication Mr Marron said a suspended jail term was an option if Thomas began complying with community service orders from a prior incident.
The matter was adjourned to September 1.