The manner of their exits is disappointing but Queensland Reds captain Liam Wright can see a silver lining in the departure of rebel trio Izack Rodda, Harry Hockings and Isaac Lucas.
The three players have been released by Rugby Australia and the Queensland Rugby Union after refusing to take a pay cut amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Wallabies lock Rodda has reportedly been at odds with Reds coach Brad Thorn and is seeking a move to a rival Australian team, while Lucas and Hockings are thought to be looking at overseas options.
Wright isn’t worried where the future lies for the trio, however, saying his focus is firmly on those teammates who have made the decision to accept a pay cut to continue playing for the Reds.
“It’ll definitely be a positive for us,” Wright told reporters on Monday before the Reds’ return to training.
“It reaffirms that this group that’s here really want to be here.
“We’ve lost some good mates but they’ll still be our mates and they’ve made their decision. This group can only get stronger through it.
“It just makes sure that everyone who wants to be here is really willing to put in.”
Rodda expressed his disappointment at missing out on the Reds’ captaincy at the start of 2020, but Wright refused to speculate on why the trio had refused to accept pay cuts like their Australian Super Rugby counterparts.
Rodda (23), with 25 Test caps, and Lucas (21) were both contracted until 2023, while Hockings (21) was off contract but in talks for an extension.
“I can’t comment on their motivations. All I know is that we all had a decision to make,” said Wright, who added he’d been Rodda’s “locker buddy” for the past three years.
“They’ve been able to make theirs and consequences will come from that.
“We have a lot of guys here who made the decision to stick with us and that’s something I’m very proud of and I think speaks a lot to the culture that we’ve got building here.”
Wright also dismissed any suggestion he’d been left on his own by the rebel trio as the Reds prepared for a truncated competition due to begin in July.
“I don’t feel out on my own. I’ve got a squad behind me who backs me,” he said.
“It’s not ideal losing guys like that and they’ve all contributed in a big way to Queensland rugby, but I’ve got the backing of our coach – of Thorny – and of the guys behind me.”
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