Thorn spits the dummy after player walkout
REACTION: Reds coach Brad Thorn is reportedly ‘livid’ at the three Reds players who have been stood down by the Queensland Rugby Union after refusing to take short-term pay cuts.
Wallaby second row forward Izack Rodda, emerging playmaker Isaac Lucas and young lock Harry Hockings – who all share the same agent – have opted against taking a competition-wide salary slash and register for the government’s JobKeeper subsidy.
The rejection to take such action comes at a time when rugby in Australia faces an uncertain financial future due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the game’s governing body in the country staring down the barrel of an AU$120-million deficit for 2020.
According to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, all three players – who played a big part in Thorn’s plans for the future – are unhappy at the Reds and are now considering their options elsewhere.
Lucas, signed until 2023, and Hockings, who is off contract next year, is believed to be pursuing deals in Japan, while 25-test Rodda wanted a move to another Australian franchise.
Rodda’s desire to make an inbound transfer comes after the 23-year-old revealed his disappointment in missing out on the Reds’ captaincy role this year, with Thorn instead handing the position to one-cap flanker Liam Wright.
“At first it was a pretty hard pill to swallow,” Rodda told AAP.
“It left me questioning what else I had to do to get it … it’s hard to swallow your pride.”
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The Herald says that Rodda now has a “severely strained” relationship with Thorn, who is reportedly so angered by the trio’s decision to turn down the salary cuts that he hasn’t spoken to them since.
The pay cut deal brokered by Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players’ Association will see players lose around 60 percent of their income over six months in a much-needed cost-cutting measure.
Rodda, who the Herald reports is on a salary worth A$650,000, would have been eligible for a six-month sabbatical between 2021 and 2023 had he agreed to the pay slash as any player who stands to lose A$200,000 over the six month period, up until September 30, would qualify for the provision.
Instead, the experienced Wallaby could well take his talents abroad as he, as well as Lucas and Hockings, weigh up their legal options in a move that would put a dent in new Australia head coach Dave Rennie’s plans prior to his arrival in July.
The Herald states that all three players are deeply concerned about the financial state of the sport in Australia and about their wellbeing of their contracts beyond this year as the economic implications of COVID-19 continue to wreak havoc worldwide.
“These situations are unprecedented, so everyone deals with the emotion of this in different ways. To be honest I think it’s a question for the players around their view of it,” QRU boss David Hanham said.
“They’ve obviously got their concerns. They’ve got a lot of mates here and they love playing rugby here. This is a global pandemic and clearly there are some things that are making them nervous.
“You come back to our values; with the team it’s about mateship, it’s about accountability, it’s about resilience, it’s about care for the cause. When you put your heart and soul into it, clearly people that are a part of that feel they want to be on that journey and others make a decision not to.”
Sources: Sydney Morning Herald & RugbyPass