Wallabies forward Izack Rodda and two Reds team-mates who refused to take a pay cut negotiated during the coronavirus shutdown were suspended as the team resumed training on Monday.
The 21-cap Australia Test second row Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings rejected a deal that sees the country’s professional rugby union players take a 60 percent pay cut over six months to help the game avoid insolvency.
The agreement, which covers 192 players, was reached after three weeks of discussions between Rugby Australia, the country’s four Super Rugby teams and the Rugby Union Players Association.
Minimum earnings were set at Aus$1 500 ($958) a fortnight – the same as Australia’s emergency government entitlements.
The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) said the trio were suspended after their agent notified the state governing body of their stance.
“We understand this situation is difficult for everyone and individual decisions need to be made to protect the long-term viability of rugby in Queensland,” QRU chief executive David Hanham said.
“As we have outlined before, these conditions are necessary at present and allow the QRU to create a financial bridge to the other side of this pandemic.”
Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson said it was “an unfortunate situation” given an agreement had already been reached while the game navigates the Covid-19 situation.
“We want the players to remain in Australia and honour their contracts with the Reds and Rugby Australia,” he said.
“We are aware they are looking at their legal position, but we hope this can be resolved with the players as soon as possible and we will keep an open dialogue with them.”
The game has been shut down in Australia since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, but plans have been drawn up to restart domestic play early in July as restrictions ease.
Players were returning to training on Monday for the first time in two months.
As well as slashing player salaries, Rugby Australia put 75 percent of staff on unpaid leave after warning it could lose Aus$120 million in revenue if the rest of the season was lost.