Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps is confident Israel Folau will stick with rugby beyond this season.
Folau headlines a number of high profile Waratahs players coming off contract in 2018, along with Wallabies captain Michael Hooper and Bernard Foley. The 28-year-old fullback has been one of Australia’s best players – at both international and Super Rugby levels – over the last few years.
He will be one of the most sought-after signatures in 2018, with a return to rugby league a very real possibility. However, Phipps is assured that Folau is happy in the Waratahs environment.
“He’s not going anywhere surely,” he said.
“I can confidently say he really enjoys it here and not only the Waratahs and also the Wallabies.
“He loves the group, loves the people he gets to play with, so hopefully they can sort that out pretty quickly and keep him a Waratah for life.”
Folau hasn’t missed a beat in the preseason with NSW and Phipps said his off-field leadership was invaluable to the younger group.
“He’s come back – I don’t think he’s had an offseason, he looks so good, straight back into it,” he said.
“That leadership he provides around the group, especially a lot of those younger Polynesian boys is so invaluable for us.
“He’s great stepping into that role and I think after that break he’s so excited to get back into it and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he goes over the next two years leading into the World Cup.”
The Waratahs are looking to turn around a disappointing 2017, where they managed just four wins and 11 losses.
“That’s the mentality, is blowing up 2017,” he said.
“It was a year of ups and downs for me personally, but I feel like here in the new facilities, (with a) new squad coming in, it’s a great chance to let go of a lot of things, learn, especially, but also just move past it and get back to what makes not only me but the squad great and our basics and our core skills, core strengths and build on them as opposed to focusing on other things that we don’t really need to worry about.”
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