Chris Dawson intends to plead not guilty to murdering his wife almost 40 years ago, with the 70-year-old's lawyer arguing Lynette Dawson was seen alive after her disappearance.
Dawson faced Sydney's Central Local Court via video link on Thursday, charged with murdering his wife on the city's northern beaches in early 1982.
The former rugby league player will remain behind bars for at least a week with his bail application scheduled for December 14.
His lawyer, Greg Walsh, said he "strenuously asserts his innocence."
"After the disappearance of Lynette Dawson, there was evidence that she was observed by a number of people," Mr Walsh said outside court.
"There were also two very important bank card transactions some weeks after her disappearance."
He said Dawson was "anxious and stressed about the situation" and planned to plead not guilty.
Ms Dawson was 33 when she disappeared in 1982 leaving behind two young daughters.
Her husband reported her missing almost six weeks later and her body has never been found.
Mr Walsh said it was rare for a wife and mother to go missing of their own accord, but he was aware of it happening on at least one occasion in New Zealand.
Intense public interest in the case was a concern, Mr Walsh said.
"(Some media reporting) is coming from an ideological perspective that he must be guilty," he said.
"That is a worry because it can distort people's memories and there have been significant delays in this case and inadequacies in the investigation by the police."
The case was the subject of The Australian newspaper's investigative podcast The Teacher's Pet.
NSW Police, who reopened the cold case in 2015, said fresh statements from at least two witnesses led to the arrest of the former Newtown player on the Gold Coast on Wednesday morning.
Some of the additional material surfaced as a result of the podcast and allowed detectives to "tie pieces of the puzzle together", Commissioner Mick Fuller has said.
Ms Dawson's relatives expressed relief following Dawson's arrest, while his family said they had no doubt he'd be found innocent.
Detectives in September dug up the backyard at the Bayview home the couple shared in the early 1980s, but did not find Lynette's remains or items of interest.
The accused killer, who lives at Coolum Beach, was extradited from Queensland on Thursday morning.
Dawson spoke only to confirm his name and say "thank you" during Thursday's brief court hearing.
Mr Walsh told the court he'd been unable to talk with Dawson in person and would prefer to have more time set aside for what "may be a lengthy (bail) application" requiring written submissions.
"It is quite a big matter," Mr Walsh told magistrate Robert Williams.
"I think it is the sort of case that your honour may need some assistance because of the complexity surrounding it."
Mr Williams remanded Dawson in custody until next Friday's bail hearing when he's expected to again appear via video link.
© AAP 2018