Quade Cooper puts Wallabies career on hold as he moves to boxing
AUSTRALIAN fly-half Quade Cooper will make his professional boxing debut in February, but is no closer to signing a new deal with the Australian Rugby Union.
The 24-year-old, who was recently fined for publicly declaring the Wallabies had become a "toxic environment", will fight as yet undetermined opponent on the undercard Sonny Bill Williams' bout against Francois Botha in Brisbane on February 8.
The controversial playmaker last week rejected an incentive-based contract from the ARU, with his manager Khoder Nasser confirming there had been "a total communication breakdown" with the governing body.
Cooper agreed to a new three-year deal with the Reds several months ago and says he still has the desire to play for Queensland.
However, that contract can only be activated if he agrees terms with the ARU, leaving Cooper in limbo.
"At this stage I've sat down and had lengthy discussions with (Reds chief executive) Jim Carmichael, he's been working very hard with our chairman Rod McCall and coach Ewen McKenzie to try and resolve the matter," Cooper said.
"As it stands now I'm still contracted until the end of December, (but) 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 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."
Asked whether he could himself playing rugby for the Reds and Wallabies next year, the 38-Test flyhalf said: "I can't see anything happening at the moment because all I have in front of me is the offer that I was given, and that offer is one that I've already said I won't accept and I haven't accepted."
But Cooper, who trained with the Reds this morning, confirmed he still has the desire to play the 15-man code.
"Rugby's the game I love," he said.
"I was brought up playing rugby union and rugby league, but I've been at the Reds since I was about 15 years of age so for me that desire will never go.
"My desire for rugby will never fade, it's something that I very much love but it's kind of out of my hands at the moment."
Cooper revealed watching Williams and former NRL star Anthony Mundine succeed in the ring sparked his interest in boxing.
"It's been a big interest after following Sonny and Choc (Mundine)," 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."