Boxing: Cooper OK to box - coach

By Laine Clark

Graham has no issue with Reds star fitting pro bouts between his rugby commitments.

Quade Cooper made a stunning professional debut with a first-round stoppage of insurance salesman Barry Dunnett. Photo / Getty Images
Quade Cooper made a stunning professional debut with a first-round stoppage of insurance salesman Barry Dunnett. Photo / Getty Images

New Queensland Reds coaching boss Richard Graham says he has no problem with Quade Cooper stepping into the ring again despite the injury risk it poses to his rugby career.

And a frank Graham agrees Cooper's "outstanding" Wallabies spring tour should have him mentioned as a future Reds captain - however, he confirmed James Horwill will be skipper next year.

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 good mate Sonny Bill Williams, who has said he does not plan to continue a budding boxing career for at least three years.

Due to the hectic year-round rugby schedule, Cooper may be forced to cram his second professional bout in between Reds pre-season trials as he did successfully this year.

Cooper made a stunning 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 in February.

Graham would 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 Graham said boxing training only seemed to benefit Cooper's rugby game.

"I think physically it keeps him in really good condition. Over the years he has learned a lot of self discipline."

Cooper has risen under McKenzie to become Australia's vice-captain while Horwill has bounced back with outstanding form since being surprisingly stripped of the captaincy.

Graham admitted a reformed Cooper had ensured he had no shortage of Reds captaincy candidates but would stick with incumbent Horwill in 2014.

"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."

- AAP

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