The Queensland Reds are facing a player exodus after reports a number of young players are unhappy with the current environment, including three Wallabies.
The Reds are also set to miss out on the star signing of Wallaby fullback Israel Folau, with the Waratahs firming as favourites as talks of an extension progress. The crux of the negotiations now rests on the length of the deal, with his representatives looking for a four-year commitment but a move north is believed to be out of the question.
Closer to home, the Reds camp are dealing with their own retention issues at Ballymore with Wallaby lock Lukhan Tui rumoured to be unhappy in Brisbane according to Rugby.com.au. The lock/loose forward originally hails from Sydney and is pushing to return to his home state in what would be a coup for the Waratahs.
Tui is under contract until the end of 2020 with the Reds and they are unwilling to negotiate a release.
Young winger Izaia Perese is willing to play out the rest of his contract (end of 2019) in order to complete a code switch and sign with the Brisbane Broncos to play NRL.
Perese was originally a rugby league junior but opted to remain in rugby, in what was a major win for the code at the time. The Churchie product was part of a champion schoolboy side that produced current NRL players Kalyn Ponga, Jaydn Sua and Brodie Croft, as well as Super Rugby players Angus Scott-Young, Mack Mason and Liam Wright.
He has dealt with his fair share of injuries at the Reds, growing frustrated after an ACL tear sidelined him for the season. Strong performances in the NRC resulted in Perese being called up to the Wallabies squad last year by Michael Chieka, so losing the former league junior would be a blow for the code.
Perhaps the biggest concern is lynchpin centre and last year’s captain Samu Kerevi, who is coming off contract at the end of this year.
He is understood to be ‘underwhelmed’ with the offer made by the Reds for next season. His previous two-year extension in May 2016 came at a time where he had just completed his first full season as a Super Rugby centre and was yet to be in the Wallabies fold.
As the Wallabies number one 13 when healthy, Kerevi should be in line for a significant increase and with a lack of depth in the position should be able to find other suitors if the Reds don’t come to the table. The Brumbies are reportedly interested but the Reds are confident they will re-sign the 24-year-old.
After missing out on Folau the Reds are sitting in a precarious position. Losing three young stars in addition to the dead money tied up in contracts for Quade Cooper, Karmichael Hunt, and James Slipper, could leave the Reds at risk of roster ‘implosion’ with more players looking to escape what has become a case of serious of mismanagement at the franchise.
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