Suspended Dragon Jack de Belin will face trial in February after a judge agreed to move the rape case forward, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
De Belin and co-accused Callan Sinclair were told in August that their trial over the alleged rape of a woman in Wollongong last year would start March 2 next year.
The Wollongong District Court acting judge, Paul Conlon, originally set the date as the earliest possible.
“Both Mr Sinclair and Mr de Belin shouldn’t be required to wait any longer than is absolutely necessary to get this trial on – the same for the prosecution witnesses I would have thought,” he stated.
At the time there were suggestions that the case wouldn’t go to trial until May due to a lack of available Crown and defence barristers.
In court on Wednesday, however, Judge Conlon revealed that he had been advised that Sinclair has appointed a new barrister who could start the trial at the start of the new legal year in Wollongong.
Judge Conlon confirmed February 3 as the new start date and reiterated his desire to see the case go to trial as soon as possible.
As the case is estimated to take two weeks the new start date means it will no longer coincide with the start of the 2020 NRL season, which is likely to start in mid-March.
Police accounts aired during previous proceedings say the alleged victim met Sinclair and de Belin at Mr Crown nightclub on the evening of December 8 before accompanying them back to an apartment on Gipps Street where the two allegedly raped her.
Both de Belin and Sinclair have been charged with five sexual assault offences including aggravated sexual assault in company causing actual bodily harm which carries a potential life sentence with a conviction.
The duo have denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to the charges. they both remain on conditional bail.