A former international sporting representative allegedly raped a woman then messaged her saying he did not mean to hurt her.

The man, who is in his 20s and has name suppression until at least the verdict, pleaded not guilty to the charge at the outset of his trial in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

Counsel Anne Stevens QC said the complainant was "a liar, manipulative and ... mentally unstable".

Her client, she said, rejected any accusation of non-consensual sex with the woman.

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The complainant, who began giving evidence yesterday, told the jury of seven men and five women that she first met the defendant when she was a teenager.

On October 10, 2018, the defendant messaged her without reply and then turned up at her flat.

The woman said they began talking on her bed, which progressed to kissing.

However, she said the man proceeded to pull off her pyjama pants and began to have sex with her while pulling her ponytail.

"I said it hurt quite a few times, I said 'stop' and the response was 'I love you'," the complainant said.

She told Crown prosecutor Robin Bates she must have asked the man to stop at least 10 times.

"I was in pain ... it wasn't gentle," she told the jury.

Bates, in his opening address, said the man was holding so tightly to the woman's hips during the alleged violation he left marks.

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Over the ensuing days, the complainant spoke to someone about the incident, who advised her to go to police.

However, the court heard, it was March 2019 before she made a formal complaint.

Bates said text messages shared between the parties in the weeks following the alleged rape were revealing.

"You raped me. You held me down by the hair and left bruises all over me. You don't get to walk away and act like nothing happened," the complainant wrote in March 2019.

"I didn't know I was being rough. I didn't mean to hurt you ... You know I'd never intentionally hurt you," the man replied.

Stevens said the prosecution would undoubtedly attempt to equate her client's apologies with guilt, which was wrong.

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She told the jury the defendant only did so to "keep the peace".

"He would take responsibility for things that were not even possibly his responsibility," Stevens said.

She said the pair had sex intermittently for weeks following the alleged rape and she argued the complainant only went to police for attention.

The trial, before Judge Michael Crosbie, continues.