Lopeti Timani after the alleged attack by Amanaki Mafi, his Rebels teammate who he is pictured with alongside Rebels coach Dave Wessels.
Lopeti Timani after the alleged attack by Amanaki Mafi, his Rebels teammate who he is pictured with alongside Rebels coach Dave Wessels.

Thugby: Rebel left battered after brutal teammate clash

THESE are the horrific injuries suffered by Melbourne Rebels star Lopeti Timani after allegedly being attacked by teammate Amanaki Mafi last weekend.

Mafi has been charged by New Zealand police with assault and faces a possible five-year jail term if found guilty.

This picture obtained by The Daily Telegraph shows Timani the morning after the alleged assault in Dunedin last Saturday.

With severe bruising, Timani is barely able to open his two swollen black eyes.

While he didn't have to go to hospital, Timani was treated by the Rebels team doctor for his injuries before flying back to Melbourne on Monday night.

Lopeti Timani after the alleged attack by Amanaki Mafi, his Rebels teammate.
Lopeti Timani after the alleged attack by Amanaki Mafi, his Rebels teammate.

Mafi returned on Tuesday after he was bailed in court, and is expected to head to Japan within days to take up a new contract with Top League club NTT Communications Shining Arcs.

Mafi was remanded without a plea for August 3 at Dunedin District Court, and will not have to appear in person on that date.

As part of his bail conditions, Mafi was ordered not to have any contact with Timani.

Both Mafi and Timani were fined $15,000 each by the Rebels on Tuesday for their roles in the melee.

Timani is also leaving the Rebels, and is awaiting a visa for France so he can join Top 14 club La Rochelle.

Rebels pair Lopeti Timani and Amanaki Mafi with Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels. The pair had been reportedly close friends prior to their alleged bust-up. Source: Instagram
Rebels pair Lopeti Timani and Amanaki Mafi with Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels. The pair had been reportedly close friends prior to their alleged bust-up. Source: Instagram

The two were close friends prior to their alleged stoush.

After their defeat to the Highlanders last Saturday, the Rebels were still in calculations for the Super Rugby finals, pending overnight results in South Africa.

Because of this, coach Dave Wessels asked his players not to go out and drink.

But Mafi and Timani defied the request. It is unclear how the argument began, but the alleged assault by Mafi on Timani at a pub was serious enough for police to lay the charge of "injuring with intent to injure".

Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson said they had to fine both players.

Amanaki Mafi has been remanded without a plea for an alleged assault on Lopeti Timani. (AAP Image/SNPA Adam Binns)
Amanaki Mafi has been remanded without a plea for an alleged assault on Lopeti Timani. (AAP Image/SNPA Adam Binns)

"Notwithstanding that both Amanaki Mafi and Lopeti Timani were finishing at the Rebels this season and heading overseas to continue their playing careers, it is only appropriate, given the seriousness of the incident, to sanction both players with a significant fine," Stephenson said.

"Along with the Rebels board, head coach David Wessels and club management, we have strived this year to rebuild a culture which values respect and excellence in everything we do.

"The actions of these two players is totally contrary to our club's values and has tarnished the excellent work of so many in the club, both on and off the field this season.

"I only hope that both Amanaki and Lopeti genuinely reflect on and learn from this very troubling incident.

 

Both Amanaki Mafi and Lopeti Timani (pictured) have been fined $15,000 by the Rebels. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Both Amanaki Mafi and Lopeti Timani (pictured) have been fined $15,000 by the Rebels. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

"The club has supported both players over recent days and will continue to ensure their wellbeing now and into the future."

Rugby Australia is continuing investigations into the incident and could take further action against Mafi under the Professional Player Code of Conduct, once the legal case in New Zealand has concluded.

The Shining Arcs seem to have backed Mafi despite Japanese clubs traditionally having no tolerance for players embroiled in criminal charges.

Lopeti Timani is waiting on a visa to join French club La Rochelle. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Lopeti Timani is waiting on a visa to join French club La Rochelle. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

"It is regrettable that Mr. Amanaki, Lelei Mafi, belonging to NTT Communications' Shining Arcs, was detained [on a charge] of assault in New Zealand, I sincerely apologise to people concerned. Also, we sincerely apologise to all the rugby fans and rugby officials for their great worry and inconvenience," the Arcs said in a statement.

"We will further thoroughly implement the code of conduct and compliance for athletes and staff so as not to cause the same situation again."

Mafi was the 2017 Australian Super Rugby player of the year.

The $30,000 in fines from Mafi and Timani will be donated to the Rugby Victoria Quilt program that uses rugby as the vehicle to prevent domestic violence.



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