A day after Queensland Reds coaching director Ewen McKenzie denied rumours, Wallabies winger Digby Ioane has confirmed he wants to leave the Super Rugby club at the end of the year.
The Reds flyer may be overseas-bound in 2014 after falling out with Queensland’s administration over a third-party payment dispute and claims of another off-field incident.
McKenzie and captain James Horwill faced the media on Monday and dismissed a report that the 34-Test veteran wanted out.
However, the Reds went into lockdown on Tuesday after Ioane claimed he had told the club earlier this month he was leaving.
The Reds scrapped plans to release a statement on Ioane on Tuesday night after players and staff kept a low profile from media at training.
Queensland CEO Jim Carmichael and Ioane’s manager Anthony Piccone did not return calls.
It came after Ioane – one of the world’s best wingers – claimed he had “no choice” but to quit the Reds due to a long-running payment row.
Ioane said he wrote to the club on April 8 telling them he would leave at the end of 2013 – a year before the end of his three-season deal.
“It’s all a business matter, that’s why I’m leaving. I had no choice,” Ioane told Fairfax.
“I’ve been thinking about it for the last six or seven months.
“I believe in loyalty but there’s times when you can’t trust anyone.”
However, Carmichael claimed Ioane’s conduct – not his contract – was a major issue.
He said the club was investigating an alleged incident at a Brisbane hotel last weekend.
Ioane was reportedly in an altercation with hotel staff when refused entry because he was not wearing a shirt.
He later tweeted about the incident.
It came barely a month after Ioane was stood down from a Reds match after getting involved in an incident at a Melbourne bar.
“He has a bigger problem than his contract and that’s his conduct,” Carmichael told The Australian.
Under the terms of his Reds contract, Ioane’s only option may be to play overseas next year with Japan and France expected to be likely destinations.
“At this stage we have an agreement that the only way he can play at any other (Australian) franchise than the Reds is if he declines an offer from the ARU – and I agree to it,” Carmichael said.
“He’s going nowhere unless I release him.”
It is in contrast to McKenzie who claimed on Monday he was unaware Ioane had any problems and felt the report on a fallout with the 27-year-old was typical of the player negotiation game.
“I’m not too stressed about it. Digby is out there playing good rugby for us so I’m happy about that,” he said.