The Queensland Rugby Union has stood down Reds trio Izack Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings for their refusal to accept a pay cut agreed by Rugby Australia and the RUPA.
Wallabies lock Rodda, rising star full-back Lucas and 6ft9in second row Hockings were all told to not report to training on Monday and will receive no pay during their time away from the team.
QRU chief executive David Hanham commented: “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.
“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.”
A deal struck by Rugby Australia and the RUPA in April and put to the players, approved a 60 per cent salary cut to ease the burden on the union’s finances.
The QRU was supported in their action against Rodda, Lucas and Hockings by Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson, the former head coach of Scotland.
Johnson said: “This is an unfortunate situation given we have an agreement in place for the interim period while the game navigates the COVID-19 situation.
“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.”
Rodda, Lucas and Hockings are all managed by Anthony Picone, the same agent who negotiated Reds captain Samu Kerevi’s departure to Japan for this year’s Top League season.
The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the stood down trio could follow suit, claiming Rodda’s relationship with head coach Brad Thorn has become ‘severely strained’.