Reds trio refuse pay cuts, stood down

Murray Wenzel
Wallaby Izack Rodda is one of three Queensland players stood down for refusing to accept pay cuts

Wallabies lock Izack Rodda and Queensland Reds teammates Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings could be lost to Australian rugby after the trio were stood down for refusing to take pay cuts.

Australian Super Rugby players agreed to an average 60 per cent salary hit after the competition was paused in March - and Rugby Australia's brittle financial state was revealed - because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Reds returned to training on Monday but did so without Rodda, Lucas and Hockings, who through their shared agent Anthony Picone notified RA they would not accept the salary reduction or register for the government's JobKeeper subsidy.

Of Australia's 192 professional players, they are the only three to refuse to sign the players' union-endorsed document, which will be revised once a broadcast deal and draw is finalised for a revamped Super Rugby competition due to start in July.

Livewire back Lucas and Rodda are both signed on RA top-up contracts to the Reds until 2023, while Hockings is off-contract this season but a player on the rise and in talks for a similar deal.

Rodda, who at 23 has already played 25 Tests, was one of a small group of players granted an overseas sabbatical to recoup their financial losses.

RA's director of rugby Scott Johnson was reluctant to forecast another ugly legal battle but unsure how the latest development would impact the players' contracts.

Picone, who told AAP on Monday he would comment "at the appropriate time", also represents former Reds captain Samu Kerevi.

The 26-year-old Kerevi left for Japan club rugby last season in a messy split that frustrated the Ballymore-based team.

The implication is that the trio of Rodda, Lucas and Hockings will pursue similarly-lucrative foreign deals and under current rules be ineligible for Wallabies selection.

But Johnson hopes they reconsider their stance.

"It's three guys ... the majority (of players) are on board ... their next steps are their steps," he said.

"They're three guys of national interest ... it's disappointing because they're front of mind when it comes to the bigger picture."

The trio had been paid in full until last Friday and Queensland Rugby Union boss David Hanham hopes, after about 10 days of back and forth, the dispute would be resolved "one way or another" this week.

That's despite staff and players taking drastic pay cuts to lower costs, with many working long hours despite being reduced to JobKeeper payments since the competition was halted in March.

"You come back to our values; it's about mateship, accountability, resilience, care for the cause," Hanham said when asked if he viewed the players' actions as selfish.

"They're good young men and clearly part of our long-term plans.

"They've obviously got their concerns ... the ball is in their court to come back to us."