Queensland Reds players Izack Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings have all been stood down after indicating their unwillingness to accept a pay reduction.
The Reds returned to training on Monday but the trio were not in attendance after they indicated through their agents that they had not agreed to the pay cuts introduced amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
A pay deal agreement between Rupa – the Australian rugby players’ association – and governing body Rugby Australia stated that players would take an average pay reduction of 60% until 1 September. Some of the highest-earning players were also allowed to take overseas sabbaticals to ensure they kept earning a fair amount.
‘Many industries in Australia are facing the same circumstances as sport in this country and the majority of our people have agreed to reduced hours under the federal JobKeeper legislation, which is assisting businesses such as ours through the Covid-19 pandemic,’ Queensland Rugby chief executive David Hanham said.
‘We understand this situation is difficult for everyone and individual decisions need to be made to protect the long-term viability of rugby in Queensland.
‘As we have outlined before, these conditions are necessary at present and allow the QRU to create a financial bridge to the other side of this pandemic.
‘Unfortunately, we have had to take the decision to stand down three of our players. Given the recent negotiated player-payment reduction agreement, this was not a situation the QRU had expected to face.
‘As we build towards the likely resumption of community and elite Rugby, the QRU remains focused and on track to deliver on its three goals during the Covid-19 period – to ensure the health and safety of our people, to protect the financial viability of the QRU and to ensure the safety and viability of our clubs.’
According to Rugby.com.au, the trio are the only of Australia’s 192 professional rugby players to reject the agreement. Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson revealed that Rodda is one of six players to be offered an overseas deal.
‘This is an unfortunate situation given we have an agreement in place for the interim period while the game navigates the Covid-19 situation,’ Johnson said.
‘We want the players to remain in Australia and honour their contracts with the Reds and Rugby Australia. We are aware they are looking at their legal position, but we hope this can be resolved with the players as soon as possible and we will keep an open dialogue with them.’
Photo: Getty Images