Melbourne Rebels re-sign Japan rugby international Mafi

FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2015 file photo, Japan's Amanaki Mafi is tackled by Scotland's captain Greig Laidlaw during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match between Scotland and Japan at Kingsholm in Gloucester, England. 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 Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017 that Mafi, who has played 16 tests for Japan, would return in the backrow. (AP Photo/Clint Hughes, FIle)

MELBOURNE, Australia — 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 Wednesday that Mafi, who has played 16 tests for Japan, would return in the backrow.

Mafi, 27, was voted the Rebels' player of the season following Melbourne's last-place finish in the Australian Super Rugby conference.

SANZAAR statistics show Mafi was ranked first among the forwards for run meters 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.

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