Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper believes his professional boxing career will enhance his chances of playing at the World Cup and also keep him out of trouble.
Cooper, who is unbeaten in two fights as a cruiserweight, steps into the ring again against a yet to be named opponent on the undercard to All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams’ heavyweight bout with American Chauncy Welliver on January 31 in Sydney.
The Reds’ Super Rugby campaign kicks off on February 13 against the Brumbies in Canberra and Cooper said he appreciates the support he has received from Reds coach Richard Graham and Wallabies boss Michael Cheika.
Cooper and Cheika sparred together during the Wallabies’ end-of-year tour to Europe last month.
“Just a few rounds on one of the captain’s runs,” Cooper told AAP.
“I looked at it as a different way to do some fitness. I was going to look at finding a gym and do some boxing anyway and Cheika just hit me up and said he’ll go buy some gloves.
“To me, that was him reaching out. He knew it was something that I enjoyed doing and he went out of his comfort zone to help me improve at something that I enjoy doing.”
He revealed that he spoke to Cheika after the tour and the coach agreed boxing would help the playmaker to remain focussed during the off-season, something the 26-year-old battled with in previous years.
Cooper spoke candidly about how he was charged with burglary on the Gold Coast – shortly after his first overseas tour with the Wallabies in 2009 – after allegedly stealing laptops from a home while he was drunk.
The charges were eventually dropped.
“After my first tour, I got into a bit of trouble because all I wanted to do was drink alcohol,” added Cooper.
“So it’s great having another outlet to help me stay fit and focused.
“The difficult part is seeing everybody else go on holidays but understanding this is my choice.
“I think it benefits me not only as an athlete but as a person … this is pretty much the most difficult time to be able to stay focused on any kind of working out.”