Former Melbourne Rebels flanker Amanaki Mafi pleads not guilty to Dunedin assault of teammate

Japanese flanker Amanaki Mafi has pleaded not guilty to assaulting a former Melbourne Rebels teammate during a confrontation in Dunedin earlier this year.

Mafi is charged with injuring with intent Wallabies lock Lopeti Timani after the pair played for the Rebels in their side's season-ending loss to the Highlanders on July 14.

Mafi, who currently lives in Japan, did not appear in the Dunedin District Court this afternoon but his lawyer entered the plea while electing a trial by jury on behalf of the 28-year-old.

The charge itself stems from an early morning incident after the 43-37 loss which saw both fined NZ$16,000 by the Rebels for breaching team protocols.

It is understood the pair were drinking at a South Dunedin address when Timani used a swear word in front of Mafi's sister, sparking the altercation.

"I thought I was going to die," Timani told the Sydney Morning Herald after the incident.

Mafi was also stood down by his Japanese club, NTT Shining Arcs, until court action was finalised.

He remains on bail.

The case will be called again in November, where Mafi's appearance has been excused.

Amanaki Mafi #8 of Melbourne Rebels passes the ball  during the Melbourne Rebels vs Queensland Reds in the Vodafone Super Rugby at AMMI Park, Melbourne, Australia on 23 February 2018. Picture by Martin Keep.
Rebels loose forward Amanaki Mafi. Source: Photosport