Quade Cooper keen to get back in boxing ring
Being a Wallabies playmaker may sound like a dream occupation - but Quade Cooper reckons it pales in comparison to being a professional boxer.
In the strongest sign yet that he will follow the lead of great mate Sonny Bill Williams, Cooper said he had savoured his professional boxing debut in Brisbane on Friday night - and did not rule out throwing on the gloves again this year.
The Queensland Reds five-eighth spectacularly announced himself on the pro circuit by softening up Brisbane car crash insurance agent Barry Dunnett with a lightning combination before dropping him with a huge right - all within the first round of their cruiserweight bout.
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie has been diplomatic about Cooper's boxing future, sticking with the "we will cross that bridge when we come to it" line.
However, it seems Cooper would like another boxing fix sooner rather than later after lapping up the limelight at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre ahead of ex-All Black Williams' WBA international heavyweight title fight with South African legend Francois Botha.
"Once I go into the ring there's all the lights, all the cameras - that's where I want to be," a gushing Cooper said.
"I said to my guys afterwards I didn't want to get out of the ring.
"I would love to have another one later on this year although I have a big year of rugby.
"So I will just continue to train so when the window of opportunity arrives in December or something like that I will be fighting fit."
Car crash assessor Dunnett (1-2 record) said ahead of his bout with Cooper that he wanted to end the "annoying" habit of code hoppers like the Reds playmaker switching to boxing.
And Dunnett tried to keep up his end of the bargain with a sparkling start to their fight, almost toppling Cooper in the first round in a sobering introduction to the sport for the Wallabies star.
Dunnett had talked the talk ahead of the fight and appeared to walk the walk, looking every bit the fighter who had drawn respect in Brisbane circles from his Muay Thai background.
However, Cooper bounced back magnificently to hurt Dunnett with a powerful combination, before ensuring his opponent had another car crash to investigate by sealing the fight within three minutes.
"I had so much fun, I can't explain the feeling. It was such a buzz," Cooper said.
"I am not going to lie but I was doubting whether my skill and athleticism was going to be enough.
"But once you get in there you've just got to trust your ability."
Cooper looked tense ahead of their fight following Dunnett's pre-fight barbs but claimed he had not taken offence.
"I wasn't disrespected by what Barry said," he said.
"He did a great job of building up the tension before the fight.
"He was just telling the truth (about Cooper). But I am glad I got through this and gained some experience."
The only downside for Cooper was that his Reds teammates had missed out on his debut - Queensland played their final pre-season trial against defending champions the Chiefs at the Sunshine Coast on Friday night.