Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
AP Photo/Mark Baker Digby Ioane is following Ewan McKenzie out the Reds' exit door.
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'I believe in loyalty but there's times when you can't trust anyone' - crisis in Oz
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans must be pulling his Kiwi hair out as his players court controversy on a weekly basis.

THE AUSTRALIANS ARE doing their best to implode in the run-in to this summers Lions Tour.

Talismanic flanker David Pocock and winger Lachie Turner are likely to miss the Test series through injury, Quade Cooper is still paying the price for his ‘toxic environment’ squad comments and Kurtley Beale is on an indefinite break from the game following a fight with teammates whilst touring in South Africa.

In an interview with The Australian, Lions coach Warren Gatland said, “From an Australian point of view I don’t see how they can afford to leave someone of the quality of Cooper out of the team.

“And they have got the same issues with Beale as well. From my aspect it seems there are a number of off-field issues that need to be sorted with players before they are thinking about playing rugby on the field.”

The latest unrest Down Under comes from Digby Ioane. The 32-times capped winger has been offered to Super Rugby sides after he expressed a lack of trust in his current side, The Queensland Reds. Contract negotiations between the Reds and Ioane’s agent have broken down on two separate occasions with the player claiming he was denied third-party [sponsorship] payments that he had been promised – a charge the franchise disputes.

Business matter

Ioane commented, “It’s all a business matter, that’s why I’m leaving. I had no choice,” Ioane said. “I’ve been thinking about it for the last six or seven months.” He added:

Sadly, it has come to the stage where I have to look somewhere else so I can look after myself. I believe in loyalty but there’s times when you can’t trust anyone.”

Reds chief executive Jim Carmichael responded, “I have written to him three times legally, Digby Ioane is not owed money by Queensland Rugby. I don’t know how many times I have to say that. I don’t care what he says, I don’t care what his manager says. If he disputes that, then you have got [the courts]. Take it and challenge it.”

A stipulation in his three-year contract with the Reds, signed in 2010, states that the only way he can get out of his third year would be a move abroad.

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Ioane signed a two-year deal with the ARU and a three-year deal with Queensland in 2010, becoming one of Australia’s highest-paid players. The Reds maintain his contract with them stipulates that if he does not renew with the ARU the only way he can get out of his third year in Queensland is by heading overseas.

The 27-year-old, who featured for the Wallabies at the 2011 World Cup, added, “I’m the type of person who would do anything for the Reds. They’ve been so good to me. I’ll never regret anything. I’ve enjoyed my footy. We’ve won a title and I’m hoping to win it again for the Reds and especially for [head coach Ewen] McKenzie because it’s his last year as well.”

McKenzie told reporters this week that talk of an Ioane move was mere speculation but the winger then claimed he had told his coach, before he met with journalists, about his intentions to leave.

The Reds are scheduled to play the Lions on 8 June in Brisbane. The First Test is two weeks later, 22 June.

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