A Hastings rugby star has been excused from making a court appearance because he was helping the Cook Islands keep in the race for a historic Rugby World Cup debut in 2015.
Ioane Ioane, 25, had been remanded on bail to appear at a trials callover in the Napier District Hastings last Thursday, facing two charges related to alleged mail theft.
But at the time he was in Papua New Guinea playing for the Cook Islands in a quadrangular Cup qualifying tournament.
A fullback or wing who plays premier grade for Hastings Rugby and Sports, Ioane, according to reports, scored at least two tries, including a crucial touchdown in a 37-31 win over Papua New Guinea on Sunday.
After winning the tournament, having also beaten Tahiti 38-5 and the Solomon Islands 39-12, Ioane's team will play Fiji home-and-away next year for the right to claim the last Oceania berth in the next Cup tournament in England.
In Court last week, defence counsel Amit Malik revealed the reason for Ioane's absence, saying there had been no condition of bail which would have restricted the player's travel.
Judge Tony Adeane excused Ioane, who was charged with theft by a person in a special relationship and with unlawfully opening postal items, and who was further remanded to appear in the court on August 19.