Mafi thanks Leicester for 'taking chance' on him
August 22, 2014
Steve Mafi, third from left, celebrates winning the 2013 Aviva Premiership with his Leicester team-mates © Getty Images
Steve Mafi has said thank you to Leicester Tigers after leaving the club to join Super Rugby's Western Force.
In a statement, Mafi paid tribute to the Tigers' fans, players and officials and thanked the club for "taking a chance" in signing him in 2010.
The Tonga international made 85 appearances for the Tigers, including a try-scoring appearance in the 2012 Aviva Premiership final. He will now join the Force on a two-year contract, allowing him to move closer to his Australia-based family.
"It has been a tough decision to have to ask for a release from my Leicester contract, but being away from my baby son and family in Australia has been difficult and I wanted to be closer to them," Mafi said.
"Leicester took a chance on signing me in 2010 and the environment was different to anything I had experienced before in rugby. I learned a huge amount in four years with a massive club, working with the coaches and the rest of the players, and I enjoyed playing in some huge games, including cup finals, with them.
"I'll be forever grateful for the opportunity that Tigers gave me in top-level professional rugby and I wish them all the best for the future.
"I'd like to thank Simon Cohen, Richard Cockerill, the players and, of course, the fans for their support and understanding during my time at the club."
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill added: "Steve came here with very little known about him, but he made a big impact with the Tigers and developed into a top-class player during his time here.
"Due to personal circumstances, however, he wished to be closer to his family and we have agreed to release him from his contract. We wish him and his family well for the future."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd