Sunwolves lose Amanaki Mafi for Australian trip

Super Rugby
by staff

Former Australian Super Rugby player of the year Amanaki Mafi won’t be taking on the Waratahs for the Sunwolves on Friday night after being left off the team sheet.

Mafi only made his return to the field for the Sunwolves two weeks ago, after being stood down by the club, NTT Shining Arcs and the Japanese Rugby Football Union in the wake of his alleged assault of then-Rebels teammate Lopeti Timani.

Mafi is facing legal proceedings in New Zealand over the alleged incident in Dunedin last July, in which Timani claimed he was attacked by his Rebels teammate.

Mafi filed a not guilty plea in September after being charged with injuring with intent to injure, while both players were also fined $15,000 by the Rebels for their involvement in the late night bust-up.

The no.8, who was named Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2017, was named in Japan’s Rugby World Cup squad at the start of March and has since come off the Sunwolves bench against the Reds and the Lions.

He was not included in the Sunwolves’ touring party to play NSW in Newcastle on Friday night, however.

Kyodo News rugby journalist Rich Freeman reported on social media that Mafi had been not travelled to Australia due to a visa issue.

Though the Mafi court matters are yet to be resolved in New Zealand, the 29-year-old was allowed to play by the JRFU and the Sunwolves after "assessing his self-reflection and willingness to change his conduct" and releasing a letter of apology through the team.

With 22 Test caps, Mafi is considered one of the top players in the national side and starred in their 2015 World Cup campaign, which included an upset win over South Africa.