AFL premiership forward Willie Rioli has avoided a conviction and been placed on a good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to drug possession.
Northern Territory police found 24.23 grams of the drug on the West Coast Eagles star after a heavily taped package fell from his shorts during screening at Darwin airport on April 23.
Rioli, 25, pleaded guilty on Wednesday in Darwin Local Court to possessing a schedule 2 dangerous drug of less than a trafficable quantity.
"Shame, loss, humiliation, grief. That's how Mr Rioli feels," defence lawyer Mark Thomas told the court.
"He is truly ashamed and regretful for what has occurred.
"Your Honour has a trite and humble young man before you."
The father-of-two has suffered a "national humiliation" after his case became public due to "an arsenal" of media reporting, Mr Thomas said.
"He has thrown his livelihood, he's a professional sportsman, into jeopardy," he said.
"He doesn't know, we don't know what the West Coast Eagles will do, or the AFL, in consequence of this."
Mr Thomas said Rioli was a young Indigenous man who'd grown up in difficult circumstances on the Tiwi Islands.
"He is an Aboriginal sporting star from a community that has done so well in terms of jumping many hurdles many of us don't have to," he said.
"He is not a bad person, he's the complete reverse ... A young man who does his best to help people, who is decent, courteous."
Mr Thomas said Rioli had sent a "heartfelt apology" to West Coast "because he knows he's let them down".
The lawyer asked for a fine but not a conviction, saying the latter may end Rioli's AFL career and negatively affect his future in general.
But prosecutor Patrick Curtin said Rioli had attempted to "smuggle drugs" to his home on the Tiwi Islands and should be convicted.
"Your Honour is well aware of the effect of cannabis on Aboriginal communities in the NT," he said.
"This young man is (also) coming off a two-year doping ban where apparently he was tampering with samples that were cannabis.
"A message should be clearly put out that a person possessing and attempting to traffic cannabis into communities should be convicted and certainly fined."
Magistrate Michael Carey disagreed and placed Mr Rioli on a 12-month good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded.
"If ever there was a lesson in this and specific deterrence to you it's surrounding you there because you know what will happen if it happens again," he said.
"You're a role model in the community and that's unfortunate because this is not a good example you've passed on."
Outside court as they shepherded Rioli through the waiting media scrum, his legal team said the star was thankful for the support he's received from the community.
The ace goal kicker has been suspended from the AFL since September 12, 2019, a day before West Coast's semi-final.
He was found guilty of substituting his urine during two separate anti-doping drug tests. He also tested positive to a metabolite of cannabis during a different test.
His AFL anti-doping tribunal case was finally heard in March, when Rioli escaped with a two-year ban instead of a possible four-year suspension.
Rioli had been given permission to train with West Coast from June 20 and resume playing on August 20.
Australian Associated Press