SYDNEY, May 22 (Reuters) - Wallabies lock Izack Rodda and two other players who declined to accept pay-cuts for the duration of the COVID-19 shutdown have terminated their contracts with Rugby Australia (RA) and Queensland Rugby Union (QRU), their manager said on Friday.
Rodda, flyhalf Isaac Lucas and lock Harry Hockings, who all play Super Rugby for the Queensland Reds, were “stood down” by the QRU on Monday after refusing to accept salary reductions or to sign up to the government’s JobKeeper programme.
Their manager, Anthony Picone, said in a statement that the QRU had “no legal basis to issue the stand-down notice”.
“This is their livelihood. It is only reasonable that talented players want to secure stable employment during these times,” he added.
“Given the parlous state of rugby in Australia and Queensland, we offered the (QRU) the opportunity to deal with these matters in private and confidentially. This offer was rejected.”
The reductions of up to 60% were agreed with the players union to help cut costs while no professional rugby was possible because of restrictions put in place to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“It would be wise for the Reds and RA to maintain amicable relationships with these players,” Picone added.
“The future is uncertain, but we should always have as many players in the tent as possible. South Africa have jumped the gun on us in this space and they won the World Cup with a unified squad selected from all around the world.”
According to local media reports, the QRU refuse to speak to Picone because of his role in the departure of Samu Kerevi to a Japanese club last year, a move that makes the test centre ineligible to play for the Wallabies under current RA rules.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford