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Mafi's international future in danger

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Mafi's international future up in the air

If history is anything to go by, the international career of Japanese back rower Amanaki Mafi could well be over.

One of Super Rugby’s best players in 2018, 28-year-old Mafi is currently waiting on an August court case in Dunedin, New Zealand after he was charged with assault with intent to injure following an incident with Melbourne Rebels teammate Lopeti Timani.

It is alleged that after Timani sent an insult in the direction of one of Mafi’s female relatives, the former was chased, tackled onto the ground and assaulted in the street.

Timani later said of the attack that he thought he was ‘going to die’.

Further reports of an alleged attack on Rebels teammate Marika Koroibete later emerged as well.

Both the Japan Rugby Football Union and the NTT Communications Shining Arcs – Mafi’s Top League team in Japan – have issued apologies and won’t make comment until the case is resolved.

Mafi’s charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, though his career may still be at risk even if charges are dropped.

In the past, Top League sides have been far from forgiving when players have found themselves in spots of trouble.

Former Japan utility back Christian Loamanu was handed a life ban – lifted five years later – by the JRFU in 2009 after testing positive for cannabis following a Top League game.

Earlier this year, former Wallabies loose forward George Smith was released by the Suntory Sungoliath following an alleged incident with a taxi driver.

Given reports of the Dunedin incident involving Mafi and Timani and photos of the aftermath, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the back-rower missing from the national side when the Japan-hosted Rugby World Cup arrives in 2019.

A Japan Times source revealed that details of the events of the night are come out, but Mafi will no doubt be sweating on the imminent decision to be made by the JRFU and Shining Arcs.

In other news:

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Mafi's international future up in the air