‘Grave error’: Wallabies legend slams Reds rebels
WALLABY Izack Rodda, Harry Hockings and Isaac Lucas have been pilloried as self-centred and out of touch with the code and community for refusing to accept their agreed pay cuts.
The trio were stood down from the Queensland Reds on Monday for a mutiny which has perplexed coach Brad Thorn and stirred disdain from others in a game riven by financial uncertainty.
The deeper drama is yet to unfold with the drums already beating that young lock Hockings and utility back Lucas are eyeing deals with Japanese club Suntory to beat the post-pandemic rush for security.
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Lock Rodda's case as a 25-Test fixture, who captained the Reds for a game last year, is as hard to fathom unless he has somehow fallen out of love with the four-year contract extension he signed eight months ago.
He may have hyper-anxiety that the deal just won't be honoured at the full figures, with the likelihood that the new five-year broadcast deal will be brokered below the current level.
Rodda did flag to Rugby Australia that he would be one of the six players to pursue short-term possibilities overseas from 2021-23 when the Rugby Union Players' Association fought to have that clause included in the recent negotiations.
Under the average pay cuts of 60 per cent struck in that deal, Rodda would be more than $100,000 out of pocket for the six months of the agreement to help save Australian rugby from ruin.
A rogue hint that surfaced elsewhere was that Rodda was interested in a move to the NSW Waratahs, a former suitor.
Stunned former Wallaby hooker Brendan Cannon said the trio's actions were "in complete contradiction with what a team stands for''.
"It's a really sad situation to have them thumbing their noses at the game and the community, and the poor advice they must have taken to do it,'' Cannon said.
"It's a grave error ... they are looking after themselves above everyone else.''
The Queensland Rugby Union has no intention of turning this into a flashpoint for any of the trio to exit contracts early to play elsewhere.
The major drama unfolded Monday morning when QRU chief executive David Hanham explained why the trio were not at Ballymore for the resumption of Reds' training.
The situation had been bubbling away uncomfortably for about 10 days, with discussions between the QRU, the players and leading agent Anthony Picone.
Picone last year signed former Reds skipper Samu Kerevi to a lucrative deal with Suntory.
"They are good young men we rate highly in our long-term plans but clearly we are not in a position we wanted to be in,'' Hanham said.
"Players have got their agents but, at the end of the day, it is the players who make the decisions.''
QRU staff in multiple departments have been on reduced working hours and pay for more than six weeks, and more than 100 RA staff have been stood down.
"Care for the cause is one of our values at the Reds, and people put heart and soul into it,'' Hanham said
"In uncertain times, other people deal with emotions and situations in different ways.''
RA director of rugby Scott Johnson added: "We want the players to remain in Australia and honour their contracts.
"This is an unfortunate situation given we have an agreement while the game navigates the COVID-19 situation.
"Approximately 190 of the other players (in Australia's professional ranks have triggered JobKeeper), all except these three."