FORMER Leigh Centurions forward Vila Matautia could face jail after he pleaded guilty in court today to an assault which left a 15-year-old boy "unconscious".

Matautia, 48, of Laurel Road, St Helens admitted to assaulting a youth behind the Golden Lion Hotel pub in Rainford, St Helens at around 3.35pm on December 4, 2017.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm at Liverpool Crown Court.

Matautia claimed that the victim, now 16, who cannot be identified for legal reasons had been bullying his son.

At the hearing, prosecutor Simon Duncan said: "The complainant, who was 15 at the time, was with friends behind the Golden Lion pub. 

"He received a Snapchat message from a person believed to be the defendant's son asking where he was. There was no response.

"As the complainant stood there with his friend the defendant walked down the side of the pub."

Mr Duncan added: "The complanant didn't know who he was and asked 'are you alright?'

"He (Matautia) didn't respond and he walked up to him and punched him in the face with his right hand. The punch knocked him unconscious at that point.

"However he regained consciosness to some degree and was aware the defendant continued to punch him five times thereafter.

"As the defendant stood over him he said 'you're a bully'."

As the boy asked Matautia what he'd done, Mr Duncan said the 48-year-old replied: "'If I find you've done anything again I'll cut you."

The boy was taken to hospital and treated for a fractured nasal bone, a wound to the nose and bruises to his forehead, left cheek and jaw.

Mr Duncan added that when Matautia was arrested on December 24 he denied that he was at the scene to police.

However, on February 24 he told police he "wanted to be straight and "changed his story".

Matautia said he went to the pub to speak to the boys about bullying and claimed one of them "pulled a knife on him".

Defending, Tom Watson said of Matautia: "This is a man who hasn't spent his life getting into trouble or threatening people in that way.

"He is a working man and there must have been something that sparked this off."

Before Matautia admitted to the assault, Mr Watson asked the judge Steven Everett for a Goodyear indication, a suggestion of the maximum sentence a defendant is likely to receive in the event of a guilty plea.

The judge described the injuries the boy sustained as "unpleasant" but added "I'm not prepared to say they were serious because they weren't as serious as they could be in the context."

He said aggravating factors included the fact children were present but said matautia is of "good character" and "I'm prepared to accept it is an isolated incident".

Judge Everett said the maximum sentence for the offence is “10 months after a trial" but said he will be giving credit for Matautia's early guilty plea.

“The real issue will be whether I pass that sentence immediately or suspend it," he added.

Judge Everett adjourned the case and Matautia was granted unconditional bail until his sentencing.

Matautia will return to court for sentencing on Thursday, July 19.

Samoan-born Matautia played for the Leythers in 2002 and has also been a coach at Leigh RUFC.

He joined the Centurions after joining from Super League giants St Helens, who he played for between 1995 and 2001.

He represented Samoa in the 1995 Rugby League World Cup and later played internationally for the USA.