Australian rugby union player Quade Cooper (L) and Warren Tresidder during their cruiserweight fight in Brisbane, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Australian rugby union player Quade Cooper (L) and Warren Tresidder during their cruiserweight fight in Brisbane, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. AAP Image - Tertius Pickard

Boxing clever for new season

QUEENSLAND Reds playmaker Quade Cooper is ready to rumble in this year's Super Rugby competition.

Fresh from his second win as a professional boxer, the 25-year-old said his foray into the ring had set him up mentally and physically for the year ahead with the Reds and Wallabies.

"It keeps you in good condition, and it keeps you disciplined on and off the field," Cooper told APN.

"I've found a lot of self-confidence from it - just stepping in the ring takes a lot of courage.

"It's very much helped me in terms of my mental preparation for rugby."

Cooper, who took his pro record to 2-0 by beating 40-year-old Warren Tresidder in Brisbane last week, will be back in Reds colours for the team's opening trial of the pre-season against the Chiefs in Toowoomba on Saturday night.

And after excelling on the Wallabies' spring tour at the end of last year under coach Ewen McKenzie, Cooper has set some big goals for the 2014 Super Rugby campaign.

"I played some good football because of the team that we had," the star flyhalf said.

"I had great teammates around me and great coaches.

"When you've got that kind of atmosphere it's hard not to play good footy.

"We want to be a championship team again.

"We don't want to ride off the coat tails of 2011.

"We want to make a new chapter, and continue to get better."

Despite the respected McKenzie leaving the Reds to answer the call to coach the national team, Cooper said he had been impressed with new Queensland coach Richard Graham.

"Richard's doing a great job. He's really flourishing as a head coach. He's had a bit of experience before at Western Force," Cooper said. "I think him now having a settled team will work wonders for him."

Cooper also had nothing but praise for good friend Anthony Mundine, who took his record to 46-5 with a unanimous points decision over unheralded Kiwi Gunnar Jackson in Brisbane.

"As much as Choc (Mundine) has helped me, he was always there for me when I wanted to take up boxing, as well as Sonny (Bill Williams)," Cooper said.

"Those two have done a lot for me over the past two years, and I'm grateful for the opportunity."


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