Wallabies' Cooper lines up boxing debut
Australian rugby international Quade Cooper has confirmed his intention to make his boxing debut in February 2013, following in the footsteps of New Zealand's Rugby World Cup winner Sonny Bill Williams.
Wallabies fly-half Cooper will feature on the undercard of former All Blacks centre Williams' heavyweight bout with South African Frans Botha in Brisbane on February 8. Cooper, currently locked in a contract dispute with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), will fight at cruiserweight but his opponent will not be finalised until December.
Cooper, currently recovering from a knee injury, insists that he still wants to play rugby long term but has suffered "a total communication breakdown" with the ARU over a new deal according to his manager, Khoder Nasser. The 24-year-old was recently hit with a heavy fine and the threat of a three-match suspension after branding the national set-up a 'toxic' environment.
"Rugby is the game that I love," Cooper said. "For me the desire will never go and it's something that I hold close to my heart. My desire for rugby will never fade - but it's kind of out of my hand at the moment.
"As it stands now I'm still contracted until the end of December." Cooper added. "I don't really have an option to continue forward with rugby union at the moment. So from now on I'm just focused on getting my body right, continuing my rehab, training still at the [Queensland] Reds as I'm still contracted there, and I'll just put my full focus into getting my body right for the upcoming boxing fight."
Williams, who switched rugby codes following a short spell in Japan after the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup triumph, will fight Botha a month before he makes his return to rugby league with the Sydney Roosters.
Cooper admitted that watching Williams and former rugby league star Anthony Mundine take to the ring sparked his interest in boxing.
"It's been a big interest after following Sonny and Choc," he said. "Just seeing them train, how much effort goes into training, how much you've got to push yourself and challenge yourself was something that became a desire."