Melbourne Rebels re-sign Japan international Amanaki Mafi despite doubt over Super Rugby future
The 27-year-old was voted the Rebels’ player of the season following Melbourne’s last-place finish in the Australian Super Rugby conference
Their Super Rugby future may be in doubt, but the Melbourne Rebels are certain they want Tonga-born Japan international Amanaki Mafi back for next season.
The Rebels announced on Wednesday that Mafi, who has played 16 tests for Japan, will return.
The 27-year-old was voted the Rebels’ player of the season following Melbourne’s last-place finish in the Australian Super Rugby conference.
Statistics show Mafi was ranked first among the forwards for meters ran and offloads, and also led the Rebels for minutes played and line breaks.
The Rebels and Western Force are the Australian teams mentioned as likely to be cut for next season as the tournament is reduced to 15 teams.
— Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) August 9, 2017
“We’re thrilled that fan favourite Amanaki has chosen to remain with the Rebels in Melbourne for another year after a standout first Super Rugby season generated plenty of interest,” Rebels chief executive officer Baden Stephenson said.
“Amanaki was the most dominant forward in the Australian conference and quickly established himself as a highly respected member of the Rebels squad with his consistent hard running and physical presence in the back row.”
The powerful forward, who is in the running as Australia’s Super Rugby player of the year, agreed to a one-year extension to remain with the Rebels for a second season.
“It was an easy decision to re-sign with the Rebels, since I’ve arrived everyone has made me feel welcome,” Mafi said.
“I’m looking forward to next year because there is more I want to achieve with the club and we’ve got some great young players so I think the Rebels will have a great season.”
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse