Fri 15 Aug 2014 | 10:21
Mafi Forces his way home
Fri 15 Aug 2014 | 10:21
Mafi Forces his way homeSHARE
Tongan international Steve Mafi has left the Leicester Tigers to join the Western Force after representing Australia at Under-20 and schoolboy level.
Lock or back-rower Mafi, 25, played for four years with Leicester, where he won the Tigers' Players' Player Award in 2012 and was a member of their premiership-winning side in 2012/13.
Mafi was a member of the Waratahs squad before linking with Leicester in 2010, where he played 85 matches in four seasons for the English team.
He has also played 10 Tests for Tonga since making his international debut against Samoa in 2010.
Mafi’s signing complements the Force’s recent retention run that has seen Nathan Charles, Dane Haylett-Petty, Rory Walton, Chris Alcock and Junior Rasolea all re-commit to the club for next season.
The versatile forward says he’s excited about returning to Australia to join the Western Force.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to come back to Australia to play with the Force and be closer to my family,” he said.
“I’ve always had an eye on coming back to play Super Rugby and I’m looking forward to working to get my opportunity next season.
"The grounds in the UK are heavier than they are in Australia, and I’m looking forward to playing some attacking, running rugby.
“I’ve followed Super Rugby while I’ve been away, and the Force has improved a fair bit in the last few years and I can’t wait to be able to contribute to that.
“I’ve played with guys like Wykesy [Sam Wykes], Ben McCalman and Nathan Charles in the Australian Under 20 squad, so it’ll be great to play with them again as well as against a lot of others that I know as well.
"I played under Foles [Michael Foley] at the Waratahs too, and it’s always good to know the coach wherever you’re playing.
“Wykesy’s also told me a lot about the culture at the Force and shown me around Perth a bit, and I know it’ll all work very well for me.”
Head coach Michael Foley says Mafi will add further potency to an already powerful Western Force pack.
“Our forwards played well this year and the addition of Steve will complement the existing strengths in our pack for next season,” he said.
“Steve’s growth – both physically and technically – over the last four seasons at Leicester Tigers has been tremendous.
"He’s always been a powerful ball carrier, but has also now developed a good understanding of the tight elements of the game.
"These attributes place him in a position to challenge for both No.6 and lock.”