Reds trio Izack Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings have been stood down amid a pay dispute.
Rugby Australia (RA) and the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) reached an agreement on a new pay deal last month amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But Rodda, Lucas and Hockings have refused a pay reduction and their nomination for the Australian federal government’s JobKeeper subsidy, the Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) said in a statement on Monday.
“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,” QRU 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.
NEWS | The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) has stood down Izack Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings, following discussions with the three players and their agent.
— Queensland Reds (@Reds_Rugby) May 17, 2020
“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.”
RA director of rugby Scott Johnson said the players were “looking at their legal position”, although he hopes a resolution can be found.
Australia, which has more than 7,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 99 deaths, is looking to launch a Super Rugby competition in the country in early July.