Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper says being allowed to box professionally a fortnight out from the 2015 Super Rugby season will not only enhance his World Cup claims but keep him out of strife.
Unbeaten in two bouts, cruiserweight Cooper will feature alongside Paul Gallen and Sonny Bill Williams in the inaugural Footy Show Fight Night in Sydney on January 31.
Cooper's Queensland Reds open their campaign in a blockbuster Australian derby against the Brumbies in Canberra on February 13.
The mercurial midfielder says he appreciates having the support of Reds mentor Richard Graham and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, with the pair bonding after sparring together on last month's spring tour of Europe.
"Just a few rounds on one of the captain's runs," Cooper said on Friday.
"I looked at it as a different way to do some fitness. I was going to look at finding a gym and do some boxing anyway and Cheika just hit me up and said he'll go buy some gloves.
"To me, that was him reaching out. He knew it was something that I enjoyed doing and he went out of his comfort zone to help me improve at something that I enjoy doing."
Cooper said he spoke to Cheika after the tour and the coach agreed boxing would help the 26-year-old to stay focused, something the 53-Test star hasn't always managed to do during his Christmas holiday breaks.
Cooper candidly recalled how, as 21-year-old rookie fresh from the 2009 spring tour, he was charged with burglary on the Gold Coast after allegedly stealing laptops from a home while intoxicated.
The charges were dropped several months later.
"After my first tour, I got into a bit of trouble because all I wanted to do was drink alcohol," he told AAP.
"So it's great having another outlet to help me stay fit and focused.
"The difficult part is seeing everybody else go on holidays but understanding this is my choice.
"I think it benefits me not only as an athlete but as a person ... this is pretty much the most difficult time to be able to stay focused on any kind of working out."
The Wallabies star believes boxing will give him a head start in a hotly-contested race for a playmaker's spot in Australia's 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign.
Not only is Cooper battling with playmakers Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale, Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano, but James O'Connor's return to Australian rugby and Karmichael Hunt's defection from AFL to the Reds further adds to Cheika's embarrassment of backline riches.
"Next year is a massive year for every rugby nation," Cooper said.
"And every player talks about ways of getting extra percentages - whether it be half a per cent, one per cent or two per cent, and I think boxing is my edge.
"The competition for spots is really hot, but that's what you want.
"You want to be part of a team that's tough to make.
"If you're a walk-up start every year, that only breeds complacency."