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Mafi returns to Japan squad

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Disgraced former Rebels star eyes World Cup spot

Ex-Melbourne Rebels backrower Amanaki Mafi has been called into Japan’s extended Rugby World Cup training squad despite facing an assault charge from his time at the Super Rugby club.

The Japan Rugby Football Union announced Mafi’s inclusion on Monday following delays in legal proceedings in New Zealand, where the alleged incident involving former Rebels teammate Lopeti Timani occurred last July.

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.

Named Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2017, Mafi left Melbourne to join Japan Top League club NTT Communications Shining Arcs, although he was banned from all team activities until November.

They then allowed him to play after “assessing his self-reflection and willingness to change his conduct” while the 29-year-old released 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.

He will take part in their next training camp.

AAP News

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Disgraced former Rebels star eyes World Cup spot