No code change but Cooper going into ring


Rugby

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 communication breakdown in negotiations with the ARU, which had left a bitter taste with the 24-year-old.

But the 38-test five-eighth said he was keen to stick with rugby and reiterated his wish to take up his still unratified three-year contract to play Super Rugby with the Reds, which had been stalled by the ARU talks.

He would train with the Reds until his contract expired at the end of the year.

"Rugby is the game that I love," he said. "For me, the desire will never go ... 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 season-opener in Canberra, though a return to the team has not been ruled out, with Reds officials playing peacemakers.

"It (boxing) is 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.

Williams will fight Botha weeks before his NRL return with the Sydney Roosters. Williams believed Cooper could succeed in the NRL and offered to pay him half his own salary if it helped him switch codes.AAP

- Hawkes Bay Today

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