From playmaker to haymakers - rebellious Wallabies five-eighth Quade Cooper is poised to confirm he is following close friend Sonny Bill Williams into the ring as his footballing career appears to languish on the ropes.
Cooper and Williams are scheduled to front a press conference in Brisbane tomorrow where the Tokoroa-born Queenslander is expected to announce he will fight on the undercard of the former All Black's heavyweight bout with Francois Botha in February.
Williams was originally set to fight the 44-year-old South African veteran in Brisbane this weekend but the clash had to be postponed after he needed surgery for a chest injury sustained while playing club rugby in Japan.
Cooper is also rehabilitating a knee injury while his future with the Australian Rugby Union remains in doubt.
He was fined $A40,000 earlier this month for making critical statements about the Wallabies alleged ''toxic environment'' and risks another $A20,000 penalty if he breaks the ARU's code of conduct before his contract expires on December 31.
Cooper, one of the Wallabies highest profile players leading into last year's World Cup, has seen his stocks fall dramatically since a miserable time at the tournament culminated in a serious knee injury.
He fought back from the setback during Super Rugby and the Four Nations although his performance against Argentina on the Gold Coast was widely criticised – a precursor to his outburst on social media side Twitter and then Fox Sport's The Rugby Club.
Among the Wallabies best-paid personnel, the ARU has reportedly offered Cooper a drastically reduced deal if he chooses to re-sign.
He agreed to a three-year extension with the Queensland Rugby Union earlier this year but delayed re-signing with the ARU – a move that appears to have backfired.
While Cooper is apparently keen to test himself as a boxer, there seems little prospect of him following Williams' footsteps by switching codes to the NRL.
A poll of all 16 club's by The Sunday Telegraph newspaper found none were publicly willing to consider signing Cooper, a talented though inconsistent ballplayer with defensive frailties.
Although the New Zealand Warriors have not exhausted their salary cap for 2013 new coach Matthew Elliott said although Cooper was a talented player “at this stage we're not in a position to take the risk.”
The Warriors moved to cover James Maloney's return home to the Roosters by bringing former Kiwi Thomas Leuluai back from Super League while halfback Shaun Johnston may also play at five-eighth.
It is also hard to envisage Cooper even wanting to return to Auckland given the treatment he copped during the World Cup where he was hounded mercilessly by All Black fans – payback for his on-going feud with Richie McCaw.
- © Fairfax NZ News