Perth based Super Rugby franchise the Western Force have signed former Waratahs lock and flanker Steve Mafi for the club's 10th season of Super Rugby in 2015.
The rampaging lock/back-rower has agreed to terms with the Western Australian club that will see him a part of the Force for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Mafi joins the Force from UK Premiership giants, the Leicester Tigers, where he won the Tigers' Players' Player Award in 2012, and was a member of their Aviva Premiership-winning side for 2012/13, defeating the Northampton Saints 37-17 in the final.
The former Australian Schoolboy and Under 20 representative grew up in Sydney and was a member of the NSW Waratahs squad between 2008 and 2010. He linked with Leicester in 2010, where he played 85 matches in four seasons for the Tigers.
The 25-year-old has 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.
Mafi 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 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 number six and lock."
Name: Steve Mafi
Born: 9/12/1989, Sydney
Representative Rugby: 2010-2014 Leicester Tigers, 2010 Tonga, 2008-2010 NSW Waratahs, 2008 Australian Under 20, 2007 Australian Schoolboys