New Beginnings: Alex Mafi's fresh outlook on Rugby after nasty neck injury

There have been several players who have switched clubs ahead of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season. In a new series, sits down with some of the key transfers, looking at Melbourne Rebels hooker Alex Mafi.Mafi had his 2022 season drastically cut short after suffering a neck injury during their round two clash with the NSW Waratahs.It forced the 26-year-old to work on himself outside of simply being 'Alex Mafi the Rugby player'“I was consciously aware that I could control my own thoughts," he said. “Despite the surroundings and realty of my situation, I knew I had a choice to embrace the channelling and take the challenge that was handed to me with two hands and add to my character “It was a tough challenge but being consciously aware that I’m in control of my own thoughts and putting myself in that space of positivity. Also, having my mind on stuff other than rugby and having that approach from a gratitude perspective of being grateful for a lot of other things in my life.”“Once that identity was taken away from me in terms of not being able to play Rugby, I started to invest myself my identity as a partner, as a brother, as a son and really invest myself into those areas of life.“I feel like that approach helped me control my thoughts in a positive way. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason and I was given this opportunity through this injury to invest myself in who I am as a person, not just Alex Mafi the Rugby player who people might recognise as.“…This outlook that have come to know and taken upon, it allows me to pour myself 100% into all these areas with this real sense of balance that I have at the moment.”Mafi made his name coming through the Queensland Reds system, however, got to the stage of his career where he wanted to test himself in a new environment.Mafi had been going to Ballymore for close to a decade straight and when the opportunity for a change of scenery opened up, he took it.He leaned heavily on former Reds teammate and returning prop Sam Talakai as he signed a two-year deal to join the Stockade.“I hit a point in my career where a little bit of change was probably needed,” he believes. "I spent eight years at the Reds and before that, coming through the system, I’d been going to Ballymore since grade nine.“It’s been quite easy to fit right in with how tight this group is. It’s been quite an easy transition. It’s been great to come down here and learn under ‘Footy’ (Rebels head coach Kevin Foote) and get the experience of a different approach to Rugby. “I’m a massive student of the game so to get that opportunity to learn a different approach to how Rugby is played has been really good.“I feel like I’m in career-best nick at the moment and I think that’s a product of change and this program that we’ve got here.”

After everything he has gone through, Mafi is putting any talk of a potential Wallabies call-up out of his mind after multiple training squad call-ups under Dave Rennie.He knows positive performances with the Rebels will do all the talking, hoping to impress in a dominant front row that includes the likes of Talakai, Pone Fa'amausili, Matt Gibbon and Cabous Eloff.“It’s quite well documented that position is wide open but I’ve got this outlook of trying not to look too far ahead,” he admits.“I’m not really focused on an end destination on where I want to be, more on the journey of every day being better. In turn, if I can stack up all those days of being a better athlete and person, in the end the boxes will tick themselves."  Click Here: Jadon Sancho jersey sale