Rebels captain Dane Haylett-Petty is confident player pay talks will be resolved before Super Rugby AU kicks off despite reports of a possible player strike.
Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) were back in talks this week, renegotiating pay cuts in the wake of the tournament being confirmed.
Australia’s players are currently on an average 60 per cent pay cut until September 30 and it has been reported that they have been asked to take a 40 per cent cut for the remainder of the year.
Rugby Australia recently made 47 full-time employees redundant while much of its remaining workforce is either working reduced hours or on a pay reduction.
The full workforce will not be back full-time until October 1 and senior members of that group are being asked to take a five per cent pay cut on their return.
Executives are on 30 per cent pay cuts for the rest of the year and it has been reported that players would be comfortable with a similar cut.
There was reportedly frustration from players about the request for a 40 per cent cut, to the point that a boycott was reportedly being considered.
One story suggested that some Rebels players were planning to stay in Melbourne when the team made its trip to Canberra this Friday.
Meetings between RUPA and Rugby Australia are ongoing and it is hoped that a deal can be struck by the end of this week.
Haylett-Petty has not been part of the recent pay discussions as Matt Toomua is the team’s RUPA representative but said he had not heard any suggestions that players were planning on boycotting the trip.
“I definitely haven’t heard about people not heading up to Canberra,” he told Rugby Australia’s official website.
“I know those pay negotiations are still going on. I haven’t been involved in too much of that, but I expect it all to be wrapped long before that first game even happens.
“I’m looking forward to those negotiations being wrapped up very soon and getting on with footy.”
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The Wallabies utility back was vocally critical of Rugby Australia over a lack of transparency around pay negotiations when the season was shut down back in March but said he felt that relationship had improved somewhat.
“I suppose so (the relationship’s improved),” said Haylett-Petty.
“I’m not too heavily involved at the moment but whenever there’s a negotiation there’s always tension about trying to get the best deal, so it’s a very normal scenario to take place.”
The Rebels will relocate to Canberra on Friday, eight days out from their July 4 Super Rugby AU opener against the Brumbies in the wake of a spike in Covid-19 cases in Victoria.
Players were briefed on the move on Wednesday and are expecting to be in the nation’s capital for the next two weeks at least.
“I think at the moment you need to be flexible and willing to adapt,” added Haylett-Petty. “We’d obviously hoped to stay at home and keep preparing but we knew this was a possibility with the situation in Victoria with COVID at the moment.
“One of the positives to come out of it is it’s always good spending time together on a tour and at the moment it’s just a two-week tour which is quite standard for us.
“We often go away for two weeks at a time, so I’m pretty excited about games being around the corner.”
Haylett-Petty confirmed their scheduled round two home match against the Reds would likely be moved away from Melbourne with the recent news.
That match, scheduled for July 10, could not be played at the Reds’ Suncorp Stadium home ground with the Titans playing a match there that night, leaving Sydney and Canberra as the most convenient options.
“I think from what I understand and, I know it’s evolving things change every day, but I think we’ll play out game against the Reds away somewhere in Canberra or Sydney and then we have the bye,” explained Haylett-Petty.
“So we’re expecting to be on the road for two weeks but we’re flexible and we just want to get the game going.”
After the bye, the Rebels are scheduled to play the Waratahs in Melbourne before a trip to Perth to face the Force on July 25.