"In any other industry...no one would think twice": McCaffrey defends Reds trio

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Brumbies backrower Locky McCaffrey has defended Queensland's stood down players amid a barrage of criticism in recent days.

Izack Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings were stood down by the QRU after refusing to agree to salary cuts set to run until September 30.

While Australia's other 189 professional players signed up to the agreement that will see an average 60 per cent cut across the board, Rodda, Lucas and Hockings have all been receiving full pay until last Friday.

Their manager, Anthony Picone, made the Reds aware of their refusal to sign roughly a fortnight ago and they were unable to resolve the issue before the ream returned to training this week.

Isaac Lucas is one of Queensland's most promising youngsters. Photo: Getty ImagesNone of the players has formally requested to exit their contracts at this stage but are exploring their legal options.

Rodda, who was overlooked as Reds captain this season after leading the team in 2019, is currently signed until 2023 and is one of six players offered the opportunity to take a six-month overseas sabbatical to recoup some of the salary losses he would suffer this season.

Utility back Lucas is also signed on a long-term deal while second rower Hockings is off-contract at the end of the year.

With Japanese salaries staying stable amid the coronavirus pandemic and English, French and even American clubs seemingly able to offer big money deals to players, the lure of overseas offers is believed to be increasingly influential.

Rugby Australia has not yet inked a broadcast deal for an abridged Australian Super Rugby competition or for 2021 and beyond and the current players' collective bargaining agreement also ends this season.

Currently, Super Rugby clubs' contracting movements are frozen meaning teams can't re-sign current players or sign new players either, something that is affecting some teams more than others.

Speaking on Sky's Big Sports Brekky on Thursday morning, McCaffrey said criticism of the Queensland trio was harsh.

"I understand the whole loyalty thing to sport et cetera but in any other industry or job, say you’re a banker and you get put on the jobkeeper or you get a 65/70 per cent pay cut and a different bank offers you a job where they’re paying you 100 per cent of your income and you can buy a house, no one insociety would judge that person for moving from his job to a second job, it would just be a no-brainer," he said.

"For some reason when sports stars do it everyone comes down on them that they’re doing the wrong thing or they’re not thinking about their future.

"Don’t get me wrong, there’s two perspectives of everything and I think all three of them are fantastic players and I would love to see all the best players playing in Australian rugby but I think it’s just wrong for society to come down on these blokes when in any other industry going around no one would think twice about it."

McCaffrey's comments come two days after Queensland radio host and former Wallaby Greg Martin slammed the group for 'dogging their teammates' in their decision.

QRU CEO David Hanham also expressed his disappointment in the players on Monday.

McCaffrey was also bullish about the future of Australian rugby, confident that Super Rugby would exist in 2021.

"I think there’s zero chance of us not having Super Rugby competition next year in Australia," he said.

"What it may look like is probably the biggest question but whatever it does look like I still think there’s a ton of really, really good rugby talent going round in Australia that can put on a good show to the supporters.

"There are still a lot of good rugby supporters around Australia and I know guys even overseas who tune in in the morning to watch Super Rugby games from England or France or Japan.

"There’s a lot of good rugby supporters that do want to see a Super Rugby competition in Australia next year."