Japan calls up Mafi despite assault charges in New Zealand

TOKYO — Amanaki Mafi, who is facing assault charges in New Zealand, has been called up to Japan's extended Rugby World Cup training camp.

The Japan Rugby Football Union announced the selection on Monday, and said it would reconsider the 29-year-old backrower's involvement depending on how the legal proceedings progress.

Mafi was charged with intent to injure former Melbourne Rebels teammate Lopeti Timani after a Super Rugby game against the Highlanders in Dunedin, New Zealand last July. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He was fined by the Rebels for breaching team protocol and later moved from Australia to Japan, where he resumed playing for Shining Arcs in November after a brief suspension imposed by the Top League club.

Mafi, who was born in Tonga, made four appearances for Japan in the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, including the upset victory over two-time champion South Africa. Japan is hosting the World Cup, which kicks off in September.

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