Rugby Australia (RA) has released three players including national representative Izack Rodda over contract disputes that arose during the pandemic, the game’s governing body in the country said.

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Rodda, 23, and fellow lock Harry Hockings, 21, were joined by 21-year-old fullback Isaac Lucas in being released from their contracts with Rugby Australia and the Queensland Reds, RA and the Queensland Rugby Union said in a statement.

The statement said: “Rodda, Hockings, and Lucas were stood down after they declined to accept a reduction in pay and to nominate for the Australian Government’s JobKeeper subsidy.”

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JobKeeper is a wage-subsidy programme supported by the country’s government.

RA interim chief executive Rob Clarke said: “Rugby Australia and the Queensland Rugby Union have made the decision to release the three players from their contracts, effectively immediately.

“As everyone is aware the impacts of Covid-19 have been felt in every country, across every industry, and rugby is no exception.

“As a result, the game collectively took the difficult but necessary action to stand down over 70 per cent of the entire Rugby workforce, which equates to over 150 workers that are now receiving the JobKeeper subsidy.

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“At the same time, 189 professional Rugby players in Australia accepted reduced pay for an interim period to enable the game to navigate this unprecedented situation. The three Queensland players elected not to accept these terms.”

Rodda had represented Queensland and Australia since 2017, with Hockings and Lucas part of the junior side which fell to France at last year’s World Rugby Under 20 Championship.

The changes come amid a tumultous time for the game in Australia, with New Zealander Raelene Castle last month leaving her position as RA chief executive after 11 former Wallabies captains joined forces to call for change in the union.

Glasgow Warriors coach Dave Rennie has previously confirmed he intends to take over as Australia coach as planned when his Warriors contract runs out at the end of June.

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