Rebels sign Japan back-row Mafi

Date published: August 4 2016

Japan back-row Amanaki Mafi will join the Melbourne Rebels next season after signing with the Super Rugby franchise.

The 26-year-old international, who starred at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, continues the club’s tradition of attracting quality marquee international players.

Mafi made four appearances for Japan, including scoring two tries, at the 2015 Rugby World Cup and played a crucial role in the team’s historic 34-32 victory over the Springboks by providing the winning pass that secured the biggest upset of the tournament.

Melbourne Rebels head coach Tony McGahan welcomed the additional experience to the team.

"Amanaki will compliment our backrow very well through his power game in the contact area," he told the Rebels' official website.

"As we saw at the World Cup, Amanaki makes his presence felt whether he’s starting the game or off the bench."

The 112 kilogram Tonga-born number eight is currently playing with NTT Communications in Japan and will join the Rebels squad at the end of the Top League Season. 

In 2016, Mafi joined Bath on a short-term contract and made an immediate impact with four tries in his first four matches.

Mafi has been a standout player in Japan with selection in the All Japan Top League’s Best XV for the last two seasons.

Before his 2014 call up to the Brave Blossoms for his senior international debut against Romania he played in Japan’s Kansai Collegiate Rugby Championships.

Mafi, who made nine international appearances for Japan including the most recent series against Scotland, is excited about the opportunity to play Super Rugby in Melbourne.

"I’m really grateful for this opportunity with the Melbourne Rebels to represent my company NTT Communications in Super Rugby," he said.

"Super Rugby has been a long term goal and I can’t wait to arrive and test my skills against the world’s best players.

"Melbourne is a great city and it will be a privilege to be a part of the Rebels team."

Mafi will join the Rebels at the conclusion of the 2016/17 Top League season.