Japan international Mafi pays NZ$50k fine for assault on team mate

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Japan loose forward Amanaki Mafi has been discharged without conviction but ordered to pay NZ$50,000 (25,720 pounds) after he pled guilty to assaulting former team mate Lopeti Timani in New Zealand in 2018, local media reported on Tuesday.

Mafi, 29, was not present in court in Dunedin and entered a guilty plea to the one charge of assault with intent to injure through his lawyer, the Otago Daily Times reported on their website.

He had been due to stand trial next month after having it postponed until after this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Mafi and Timani grew up together in Tonga and were team mates at the Melbourne Rebels last year.

The incident occurred after the pair spent the night drinking with each other following their Super Rugby match against the Otago Highlanders in July 2018.

Mafi, who spent the night in custody following the incident, initially pled not guilty.

The newspaper reported that the pair had fought after Mafi objected to language that Timani was using in front of a female relative. They were pulled apart by others in the house before Timani ran outside and hid in bushes in a nearby park.

Mafi, however, found Timani and continued to punch him until he thought he “had enough”, the newspaper added.

In a victim impact statement read to the court Timani said he experienced concussion symptoms for about six months.

Judge John Macdonald said the assault had been “moderately serious” but accepted evidence from Mafi’s defence lawyer, which was agreed to by the prosecution, that a conviction would likely see his playing contract in Japan torn up, the report said.

Macdonald ordered Mafi to pay the NZ$50,000 directly to Timani within a week.

Both Mafi and Timani were also fined A$15,000 by the Rebels following the incident and left the club after the 2018 season.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford