Cooper puts rugby ca­reer on hold for box­ing

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

SYD­NEY

Con­tro­ver­sial Aus­tralia fly­half Quade Cooper will put his rugby ca­reer on hold to make his pro­fes­sional box­ing de­but in Fe­bru­ary, the player said on Mon­day.

Cooper said he had re­jected a con­tract with the Aus­tralian Rugby Union af­ter be­ing of­fered an in­cen­tive­based deal usu­ally awarded to fringe squad mem­bers.

The 24-year-old will in­stead make his box­ing de­but on the un­der­card when close friend Sonny Bill Wil­liams faces South African Fran­cois Botha in Bris­bane on Feb. 8. "It (box­ing) is been a big in­ter­est for me af­ter fol­low­ing Sonny and Choc (An­thony Mun­dine) and when I caught a live fight the first time and saw how they trained," Cooper told re­porters in Bris­bane.

Cooper, re­cu­per­at­ing from a knee in­jury, said he will con­tinue to train with the Queens­land Reds, with whom he is cur­rently con­tracted till the end of the year.

"Box­ing has been used as a bit of a re­lease, a bit of a way to work on my car­dio," Cooper said. "As it stands now, I'm still con­tracted un­til the end of De­cem­ber. "I don't really have an op­tion to con­tinue with rugby at the moment, so for now I'm just fo­cus­ing on get­ting my body right. "I'm still train­ing with the Reds, I'm still con­tracted with them. I'm just putting my full fo­cus on get­ting my body right for the up­com­ing box­ing fight." The out­spo­ken New Zealand-born player was re­cently fined A$40,000 for de­scrib­ing the Wal­la­bies camp as a "toxic en­vi­ron­ment."

The fine com­pleted a mis­er­able 12 months for Cooper, which started when he limped out of the World Cup with a dam­aged knee af­ter be­ing la­belled "pub­lic en­emy num­ber one" in the land of his birth.

Cooper has since been linked with a move to ei­ther the Ja­panese or French leagues or Aus­tralian rugby league, where former All Black cen­tre Wil­liams New Zealand's heavy­weight box­ing will play next year. Though he re­mained non-com­mi­tal on his fu­ture plans, Cooper in­sisted his pas­sion for rugby re­mained in­tact. "Rugby is the game I love. I was brought up play­ing rugby union and rugby league," he 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 hands at the moment."

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