The 21-year-old was initially refused bail after turning himself into Liverpool Police Station, resulting in a fortnight in remand. His lawyer, Elias Tabchouri, took the matter to the Supreme Court in a bid to free his client.
“It is a great relief to the family,” Tabcouri said of the outcome.
“At this stage it is very early stages. We are still very confident in our client’s innocence and we will continue in that regard.
“The level of support from the club and all associated with Manase all the way from the club to his manager and even the NRL, everyone’s support has been fantastic for him. It’s wonderful and allowed us to get the result we have got.”
Fainu appeared via video link from Parklea Correctional Centre, wearing a prison-green t-shirt.
The Crown stated that three witnesses identified Fainu as the stabber, although his barrister, Richard Pontello QC, told the court the identification was an issue given it was an “all-in brawl between two groups in the dark”.
The court heard that, despite recently undergoing shoulder surgery, Fainu scaled a fence to retreive his sling after the stabbing.
Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler, football manager John Bonasera and teammates Moses Suli, Jorge Taufua, Addin Fonua-Blake, Apisai Koroisau and a large contingent of family members assembled outside courtroom 11A in a show of support.
Suli is Fainu’s closest childhood friend, while Penrith-bound Koroisau has labelled Fainu a future Sea Eagles skipper. While Koroisau was in court, some of his Panthers teammates were sweating it out in 40 degree heat for the opening day of Penrith’s pre-season.
Hasler had previously visited Fainu when he was in remand in a bid to lift the spirits of his star No.9. The two-time premiership-winning coach has a reputation for backing his players, as evidenced by the support he extended to Dylan Walker during his own court proceedings, in which he was ultimately found not guilty of assaulting his partner.
Fainu’s manager, Mario Tartak, was also present. The agent is currently serving a suspension from the accreditation committee, but insists he has resolved the issue that led to him being stood down.
Fainu is considered one of the most promising young hookers in the game, to the point NSW coach Brad Fittler met with the Tongan international to sound out whether he would pledge his allegiance to the Blues.
The Sea Eagles are without a specialist No.9 after releasing Apisai Koroisau to the Panthers, with the club considering its options given the cloud over Fainu’s future.
The NRL has again been plagued by a spate of off-field dramas during the off-season. Just a year after NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg labelled last season’s pre-season a “train wreck”, the game has been rocked by players being involved in two separate Bali brawls.
Brisbane forward David Fifita must face the integrity unit after negotiating a “peace agreement” with his alleged victim, just weeks after Storm star Nelson Asofa-Solomona copped a three-Test ban over his own conduct in the tourist hotspot.
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.