Japan international Mafi voted Rebels’ player of the year

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Tonga-born Japan international Amanaki Mafi has won the Melbourne Rebels player of the year award at the Super Rugby club.

Mafi, who has played 16 test matches for Japan, was the fifth consecutive back-rower to win the award in the voting results announced Wednesday by the Rebels.

According to SANZAAR statistics, the 27-year-old Mafi was second in Super Rugby this season for runs with 196 carries, behind the Chiefs’ Damien McKenzie with 210.

Mafi also led the Rebels for minutes played and line breaks and was one of just three Rebels to appear in all 15 matches.

Melbourne placed last in the Australian conference with one win and a draw during the regular season.

Either the Rebels or the Perth-based Western Force are expected to be cut next season as the tournament is reduced to 15 teams.

The Cheetahs and Southern Kings have already been confirmed as the South African teams to be eliminated from the current 18-team competition.