Lopeti Timani speaks about alleged assault: 'I thought I was going to die'

Lopeti Timani has spoken out about an alleged assault which left him fearing for his life.
Lopeti Timani has spoken out about an alleged assault which left him fearing for his life. Photo credit: Newshub.

Melbourne Rebels player Lopeti Timani opened up about an alleged beating at the hands of teammate and friend Amanaki Mafi in Dunedin last week.

Timani claims he thought he was doing to die and feared for his life, in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

Both players were reportedly drinking at the house of Mafi's brother when Timani insulted a Mafi family member after the Rebels' 43-37 loss to the Highlanders.

The 27-year-old claims he fled the house in fear of his life, and was chased down and beaten.

"His brother tried to hold me as 'Naki' [Mafi] started punching me in the face," Timani told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Naki got offended because I said something offensive in front of his sister, so he started having a go at me, saying I was saying something rude. We had an argument, I was trying to tell him I was sorry and 'I didn't mean to make you angry or offend anyone'.

I said, 'Mate, why are you doing this to me? I thought you were my teammate. I know your family. Are you punching me because you're angry because I said something offensive to your family?'

"He was just punching me, and he said, 'Because I'm telling you now I'm the man, I'm the man.' I thought they were going to kill me. I thought I was going to die."

Lopeti Timani speaks about alleged assault: 'I thought I was going to die'

Timani alleges that Mafi and his brother then dragged him by his shirt to their car and held him by his jumper collar as Mafi's brother drove around town.

When he got the chance, he claims he jumped out of the car and hid in a bush before getting in a taxi and heading back to the team hotel.

"I didn't know where they were trying to take me. Naki was just swearing at me in the rude Tongan way. I decided if the car stopped at a red light I would run and try to get back to the hotel."

Mafi faced a Dunedin court on Monday morning after being charged by New Zealand police over the incident, and was released on bail.

Both players were fined NZ$16,300 and are not returning to the club next season.

Newshub.