Quade Cooper free to continue boxing
December 3, 2013
Quade Cooper made a successful professional debut in the boxing ring in February © Getty Images
Richard Graham has no problem with Quade Cooper stepping into the ring again, despite the injury risk boxing poses to the fly-half's rugby career.
Cooper has made it clear since inspiring the Wallabies' tour-ending 30-26 win over Wales that he will not follow in the footsteps of Sonny Bill Williams, his good friend who does not plan to continue a budding boxing career for at least three years. Cooper said previously, before Australia played England at Twickenham in November, that "I love [boxing] ... it's something that during the week I find is very positive in my life", but he may have to schedule his second professional bout between Queensland Reds pre-season trials - as he did when he made his fight debut in February. Cooper made a successful professional debut with a first-round stoppage of insurance salesman Barry Dunnett on the undercard of Williams' heavyweight win over former champion Francois Botha in Brisbane.
Graham, the Reds' head coach, could be forgiven for not wanting to see his star charge back in the ring as he prepares to officially take over the Reds reins from Ewen McKenzie, but he said that boxing training seemed to benefit Cooper's rugby game.
"Quade handled the situation last year," Graham said. "I have no issues [with Cooper continuing boxing]. I think physically it keeps him in really good condition. Over the years, he has learned a lot of self-discipline. I think he has really matured, and that has reflected in his performances the last few weeks."
Cooper has risen under McKenzie to become Australia's vice-captain, and Graham agreed with suggestions that his playmaker's "outstanding" efforts on the Wallabies' end-of-year tour of Europe should have Cooper mentioned as a future Reds captain, But he confirmed that James Horwill would be the Queensland captain in 2014, noting the lock had produced strong Test efforts since being stripped of the Wallabies captaincy.
"Quade has been outstanding on this tour," Graham said. "He is confident and when he is you see the full array of skills that he has got; I think that makes us a better team. Quade has been a leader here for the last three or four years by the nature of his position [but] Horwill has captained the team very well. There is no reason in my mind to change the captaincy."
Graham baulked at suggestions that Horwill's output as a player for the Wallabies had improved without the burden of captaincy. "I don't think necessarily taking the captaincy off him was the catalyst [for his tour form]," Graham said.
Graham said that Rod Davies was his only injury concern ahead of a busy pre-season, which will include a February 14 trial against Melbourne Rebels at Ballymore. Davies has a knee injury.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
British sprinters Dwain Chambers and Richard Kilty won their 60m heats to progress to Saturday's semi-finals at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot
Leyton Hewitt moved within one victory of becoming the third active ATP Tour player to win 600 matches after seeing off fellow Australian Matthew Ebden 7-6(2) 3-6 6-3 in the first round at Indian Wells
Chris Gayle has suggested England are substantially weaker without Kevin Pietersen and believes terminating his contract was "disrespectful"
Maria Sharapova believes men's grand slam matches should be played over three sets instead of five to make them more "exciting"
Manchester United boss David Moyes has admitted his surprise at seeing Robin van Persie play 90 minutes for the Netherlands on Wednesday when he had spent the previous day laid low in bed through illness
With just two rounds left in the 2014 championship, the intensity cranks up a notch at Twickenham. Tom Hamilton previews the weekend's action
Only Chelsea and Liverpool can win the Premier League this season, despite Jose Mourinho's claims
Australian Rugby Union officials in recent times have "lacked authority" when negotiating with New Zealand and South Africa, and they need to show "more backbone" when pushing national causes, Greg Growden reports
Tottenham have not won a game at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea since 1990, but there revival under Tim Sherwood could see them upset the odds in this London derby
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year
Cristiano Ronaldo has played down his latest record, claiming landmarks come naturally to him
Eden Hazard believes he can surpass Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to be the best player in the world - but knows he needs to be twice the player he is at the moment to achieve his goal
Samir Nasri insists Arsene Wenger is a "magician" and believes criticism of his former manager about his lack of trophies is unfair
Mesut Ozil continued to face criticism as he was jeered by a section of Germany fans during his nation's 1-0 friendly win over Chile in Stuttgart
David Moyes was in attendance for France's 2-0 friendly win against the Netherlands in Paris on Wednesday to scout Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba as he considers how to rebuild his Manchester United squad
Join Gareth Davies, Ben Blackmore and Chris Park each week for the latest news, views and debate from the UFC
Once prone to putting his head down and looking the other way when walking past fans on the street, Andy Murray is finding lots of reasons to look them in the eye
'I'm glad that Vasyl Lomachenko is a pro and I'm also glad that he lost on Saturday,' writes ESPN's resident boxing expert Steve Bunce
The waiting is finally over after it was announced that 82-year-old Nick Bollettieri will be enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame later this summer