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Quade Cooper walkout report baffles officials

Tuesday 20 Nov 2012 8:32a.m.

Cooper walkout report baffles officials

Mystery remains over Quade Cooper's immediate future following a television report the controversial Wallabies playmaker is quitting rugby to take up boxing.

News broke on the Nine Network on Monday evening that New Zealand-born Cooper would be lost to the code but Australian and Queensland rugby officials aren't sure whether the report was accurate or a tactic to garner a better top-up contract from the Australian Rugby Union.

Neither the ARU nor QRU had been informed by Cooper or his agent, Khoder Nasser, that he intended tearing up his three-year Super Rugby deal with the Reds which would take him through to the 2015 World Cup.

Despite Cooper being among the most talented and exciting players in the game, the ARU has offered him a low-grade incentive-based deal for 2013.

The offer has been tabled in the past fortnight, since the 24-year-old was slugged with a $A40,000 ($NZ50,800) fine for his criticism of the Wallabies, saying in September the national team housed a "toxic environment".

He'd originally failed to sign off on a more significant ARU deal that was first put to him in July after he re-signed with the Reds.

Although Cooper is close friends with another Nasser stablemate in Sonny Bill Williams, he has never spoken seriously about a desire to box before.

Monday night's bombshell, which came hours after Cooper tweeted a picture of himself and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, was met by surprise from both the QRU and ARU.

"The ARU has had no communication with Quade Cooper or his management," an ARU spokesman said.

The timing of the report is also intriguing as it comes almost 48 hours after the Wallabies shored up coach Robbie Deans's position for next year with a 20-14 win over England at Twickenham.

In spite of a rocky 2012, QRU boss Jim Carmichael and Reds coach Ewen McKenzie have consistently stated their confidence that the star playmaker would remain at Ballymore in 2013.

NZN

 
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