Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

McKenzie: Boxing is helping Cooper

Quade Cooper is the latest rugby union player to take up boxing

Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie believes Quade Cooper's boxing sojourn could bring out the best in the enigmatic playmaker.

Cooper will fight on the Sonny Bill Williams undercard in Brisbane on February 8, just one week before the Reds kick-off their 2013 Super Rugby campaign. McKenzie has seen a new drive and focus in Cooper's approach to rugby since he embarked on his boxing cameo, shortly before signing a new two-year deal with Australia.

"The quality of his rugby training has been outstanding. He seems in a very good space," McKenzie said.

"He is highly motivated and very switched on.

"He is adding a lot not just in terms of the team but also a lot of mentoring around some of the younger guys.

"It is the first time since I have known him that he's had a contract longer than one year. He is fairly settled."

McKenzie argues Cooper's confidence levels could soar with an impressive performance in the ring.

"If you are going to put yourself out there in front of a big TV audience and a crowd one-on-one, you can't help think he is getting some benefit from a confidence point of view," McKenzie said.

The Reds boss has not ruled out allowing Cooper to box on after February but will reserve his decision until after the bout.

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