Shellharbour Sharks player Callan Sinclair has been denied the chance to play at an upcoming Rugby League World Cup qualifier in London after a magistrate refused to remove one of his bail conditions.
Sinclair, who is accused of raping a woman inside a Wollongong unit last year, was stripped of his passport under strict bail conditions imposed by police when he was charged in December.
Sinclair, 21, and St George Illawarra Dragons player Jack de Belin, 27, have both been charged with aggravated sexual assault in company.
In Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday, Sinclair's lawyer, Graeme Morrison, applied to have the footballer's bail conditions varied - including that the restriction placed on overseas travel be removed.
Mr Morrison told the court Sinclair had been selected to play for Norway in a Rugby League World Cup qualifier against Greece in London.
Sinclair was eligible to play for Norway because his grandfather was Norwegian, the court heard.
Mr Morrison described Sinclair as a "keen rugby player" and said London was home to the super league, meaning there would be "a lot of talent scouts there".
Sinclair was supported in court on Tuesday by his mother, who Mr Morrison indicated would accompany him to London, as would his dad and three brothers.
The court also heard Sinclair was working as a labourer and was in his third year of a university degree.
"His whole life shouldn't be put on hold," Mr Morrison said.
The police-imposed bail given to Sinclair came with a number of conditions; including that he report to police and surrender his passport.
In applying to have Sinclair's reporting conditions changed, Mr Morrison said he regularly travelled to Merimbula, where his parents lived, and there was "nothing to be gained by reporting".
Mr Morrison told the court de Belin's reporting conditions had been removed and he saw no reason why Sinclair should be treated differently.
In court on February 12, a magistrate deemed de Belin “too high profile” to be considered a flight risk. De Belin was previously required to report to police three times a week.
On Tuesday, police prosecutor Sergeant Coby Davis opposed Sinclair's application, citing the "very serious allegations" against him and the "shocking set of facts" in relation to the alleged offences.
"They do have concerns about him being within the jurisdiction," Sergeant Davis said, in relation to why Sinclair was required to hand-in his passport.
The prosecutor also indicated there could be the temptation for Sinclair not to come back to court if granted leeway to go overseas.
Magistrate Susan McGowan said while the timing of Sinclair's selection in the Norwegian team was "unfortunate", the allegations against him were "far too serious" for her to grant the application.
However, Magistrate McGowan did agree to remove the condition requiring Sinclair to report to police.
Sinclair and his mum remained silent as they left the courthouse.
Asked outside court if he had anything to say on Sinclair's behalf, Mr Morrison said: "Well obviously it's an opportunity that's gone begging at the moment."
As for whether Sinclair would fight the charges, Mr Morrison said: "Of course".
The case returns to Wollongong Local Court on April 17. De Belin is also due to face court on that date.