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Australia 11:05 New Zealand

Fly-half Quade Cooper takes a break from rugby and heads into the boxing ring

Last Updated: 26/11/12 9:44am

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Boxing convert Quade Cooper (l) with Sonny Bill Williams

Boxing convert Quade Cooper (l) with Sonny Bill Williams

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Quade Cooper is to pursue a career in boxing, having decided not to accept a contract offer from the Australian Rugby Union.

The Wallabies fly-half announced on Monday that he will make his boxing debut next year after receiving a downgraded offer from the ARU.

His first opponent has not yet been named but he will be fighting on the undercard of a promotion in Brisbane on February 8.

The bill will include a bout featuring his close friend Sonny Bill Williams against South African Francois Botha.

Cooper rejected a lucrative contract offer from the ARU in July and had been awaiting its revised offer.

He has signed a three-year contract with Queensland, worth a reported $400,000 per year to play in Super 15, but that deal is contingent on his acceptance of the ARU's offer.

The 24-year-old has played 38 Tests for Australia and will open his boxing career as a cruiserweight.

He said: "Rugby is the game that I love but I don't really have an option to continue forward with rugby union at the moment.

"All I have in front of me is the offer that I was given, and that offer is one that I already said I won't accept, and haven't accepted."

Cooper will continue to train with the Queensland Reds until his ARU contract expires on December 31.

His planned boxing debut will take place eight days before the Reds contest the opening match of the 2013 Super 15 tournament against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra.

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