Australian rugby teams are preparing to restart their season with reduced staff as the players pay-deal negotiations look set to drag into the first week of the new competition.
The ACT Brumbies held their final pre-season session on Friday at the same time the Melbourne Rebels relocated their entire squad to the capital to escape Victoria's coronavirus spike.
Players had hoped to find out on Friday afternoon if there was a resolution for their latest pay cut, with Rugby Australia asking them to take a 40 per cent reduction until the end of the year.
The prospect of striking and disrupting the first game of the Super Rugby AU is unlikely, but players are growing frustrated at how they are being portrayed.
Some of Australian rugby's top earners have taken a 75 per cent hit to their pay to ensure those on smaller contracts are still able to pay bills during the COVID-19 chaos.
The players are committed to reviving the game in Australia and want to help officials create a product for the code's long-term viability.
Everyone in rugby has suffered, with the majority of Super Rugby franchise staff still either stood down or working reduced hours while receiving the Federal Government's JobKeeper payment.
Olympic Games sevens representative and Brumbies back-rower Tom Cusack said: "I'm sure it will [get sorted out]. It's above my pay-grade, but the right people are at the front of the discussions and I feel it will get done."
Brumbies assistant coach and former NSW Waratahs point-scoring ace Peter Hewat praised the players for being fully committed to training through isolation, pay-deal disruptions and the restart of contact sessions.
"Our boys have been rock solid there, they haven't really let that affect the way they've trained or performed," Hewat said.
"Obviously there have been discussions going on in the background that we haven't been privvy to, but the boys haven't missed a beat during this whole period. They've been outstanding ... they've trained hard, they came back [from isolation] in really good nick and they haven't missed a beat.
"I can't speak more highly of how professional they've been."
The Brumbies will play the Rebels next weekend when the season restarts in front of about 1500 fans at Canberra Stadium.
The Rebels will be based in the capital for the foreseeable future to ensure the season goes ahead, with all players boarding their flight on Friday.
They will train at Duntroon and potentially shift home games to the capital if required, with the Rebels to play the Queensland Reds in round two.
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"It was needed for the game to go ahead," Cusack said. "With the way Melbourne is progressing with the situation, it was smart to get them here as soon as positive.
"It's put the game in the best position to go ahead. Is it an advantage? I don't know, they're down here for a full week ... a lot of them will be used to the cold mornings and raining days. Melbourne [weather] isn't much better than Canberra.
"I'm certain by round one they'll be ready to go ... watching the other codes go back, we've had a month lead into a Super Rugby game. As restrictions ease, everyone has to have the ability to adapt and do whatever they need for the game."
The Brumbies' membership ticket ballot closed on Friday afternoon, with fans needing to agree to terms and conditions if they want to attend the game next weekend.
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND ONE
July 4: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm