Quade Cooper has placed his rugby union career on hold after revealing he’ll make his boxing debut on the undercard of close friend Sonny Bill Williams’ bout with South African Frans Botha in Brisbane on February 8.
While not quitting rugby, the disgruntled Wallabies playmaker admitted his future in the 15-man game was clouded after receiving a downgraded, incentive-based offer from the Australian Rugby Union this month which he would not accept.
Cooper’s agent Khoder Nasser said there was a ‘‘total communication breakdown’’ in negotiations with the ARU which had left a bitter taste with the 24-year-old.
Quade Cooper and Sonny Bill Williams arrive to speak to the media in Brisbane today. Photo: Getty Images
But the 38-Test five-eighth said his desire to continue his rugby career remained strong and reiterated his wish to take up his still unratified three-year contract to play Super Rugby with the Queensland Reds which is stalled by the ARU talks.
He added he would continue to train with the Reds until his current contract expired at the end of the year.
‘‘Rugby is the game that I love,’’ 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 hand at the moment.’’
Nasser said Cooper would make his boxing debut in the cruiserweight division but his opponent would not be finalised until next month.
The fight date is eight days before the Reds’ 2013 Super Rugby season-opener in Canberra and a return for Queensland has not been ruled out with Reds officials currently playing peacemakers.
‘‘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 said.
Dual international Williams will fight Botha a month before he makes his return to the NRL for the Sydney Roosters against South Sydney on March 7.
Williams believed Cooper could be a success in the NRL and offered to pay him half of his own salary if it helped him to switch codes.