ARU boss calls for Cooper to focus on rugby

IAN RANSOM
Last updated 17:19 18/02/2013
Quade Cooper
Getty Images
KNOCKOUT START: Quade Cooper dropped opponent Barry Dunnett with a second remaining in the first round in his first professional bout.

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Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver believes Wallabies flyhalf Quade Cooper should focus on rugby rather than building a career in the boxing ring like former All Black Sonny Bill Williams.

Cooper, who shares the same manager as his friend Williams, won his first professional fight with a first-round knockout of an insurance company agent earlier this month, a week before his Super Rugby season-opener for the Queensland Reds.

"Do I like the fact that one of our Super Rugby players had a boxing match the week before the first game? In all honesty, no, not particularly," Pulver said in comments published by The Australian newspaper on Monday.

"Had I been coach of that team, that would not have been my preference. But that's water under the bridge. There's nothing I can do about that.

"My preference is those players who are contracted to the ARU focus on rugby."

New Zealand-born Cooper was ineffectual in the Reds' 24-6 loss to the Canberra-based ACT Brumbies at the weekend and gifted his opponents a last-minute try with an intercepted pass.

The 24-year-old's first fight, on the undercard for Williams's bout with South African Francois Botha in Brisbane, was held as the Reds lost 20-8 in a pre-season match to the Chiefs, last season's Super Rugby champions.

"Once I go into the ring there's all the lights, all the cameras - that's where I want to be," Cooper said after his first foray into the ring, adding that he hoped to have another fight later this year.

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