Rugby league star Blake Ferguson has apologised for an alleged indecent assault at a Cronulla nightclub, claiming it was a case of mistaken identity.
Giving evidence at a hearing at Sutherland Local Court on Wednesday, the former Canberra Raiders player said he touched the thigh of a blonde woman at the 2230 nightclub but he thought he was making advances at a woman he had kissed and touched earlier in the night at the Northies club.
Ferguson and former Raiders teammate Josh Dugan were celebrating their inclusion in the State of Origin side on June 16 with a night out that started at Northies and ended with the alleged assault at 2230.
CCTV footage from the club shows the pair drinking beers, hugging and talking to several women and posing for numerous photos.
About 10.30pm, he allegedly touched a young woman's genitals under her dress for about two seconds.
The footage does not clearly show the alleged assault but shows the alleged victim, a 23-year-old woman who cannot be named for legal reasons, pushing Ferguson away before going to speak to a male friend, Lee Strawbridge.
Ferguson said he had been hooking up with a blonde woman earlier in the night at Northies and told her to meet him at 2230 later.
"I always liked blonde girls because I lived in Cronulla for a long time," he said.
He said he was drunk and only touched the upper thigh of a blonde woman at 2230, thinking she was the same person.
"I would like to say sorry to [the victim], I would never touch her in a sexual way," he told the court. "I'm really sorry I mistaked [sic] her for the girl I hooked up with at Northies. I would never touch a girl like that if I didn't know them at an intimate level."
Prosecutor Rick Mansley accused him of making up the "mistaken identity" story in court, pointing out that he did not explain to anyone on the night that he thought she was someone else.
Ferguson said he was embarrassed and apologised to the woman's friends and shook Mr Strawbridge's hand but did not mention the mistaken identity explanation.
"They didn't want a bar of it," he said.
Ferguson also told the court he had struggled to deal with fame after being catapulted into professional rugby following a troubled upbringing.
He went to six schools paid for by his step-grandparents because his parents were both drug addicts.
"It was quite difficult getting, basically, girls thrown at me," he said. "I still haven't ... come to terms with all the attention with, like, photos and signatures and all that."
Dragons player Josh Dugan gave evidence that the pair were often mobbed by female fans.
["There is] no shortage of girls making advances at you?" defence lawyer Adam Houda asked Dugan.
"Not at all," he replied.
Mr Houda accused the victim of the alleged assault of taking advantage of Ferguson's fame and of having an unreliable memory of the incident because she was "highly intoxicated" from drinking three vodkas, one cider and two shots at Northies.
"I would say no because I drink water in between each drink I have," she said.
She told the court she did not know Ferguson was a high-profile rugby league player and did not see him having several photos taken or talking to her friends about State of Origin.
When she was later shown CCTV footage of her "photobombing" or jumping up behind a photo of Ferguson and Dugan, she maintained that she did not know he was famous.
She said she found out only when she went to the police station to report the incident that night.
Ferguson was dropped from the Origin squad and later from the Raiders for his off-field performance.
He has not found another club since.
The hearing continues.