'Hopefully they can sort that out' - Nick Phipps urges ARU to re-sign Wallabies star Israel Folau early

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Nick Phipps is expecting big things from Israel Folau as he makes his return to rugby after a two-month break.

Israel Folau of the Wallabies breaks for a run against the Springboks at NIB Stadium, Perth in Australia. 9 September 2017. Copyright Image: Daniel Carson / www.photosport.nz

Israel Folau of the Wallabies breaks for a run against the Springboks at NIB Stadium, Perth in Australia.

Source: Photosport

He also expects the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs superstar to stay put in the 15-man game for the long-term, urging Rugby Australia and NSW officials to re- sign him as quickly as possible.

Folau is off contract at the end of 2018 but with the 2019 World Cup just around the corner, he is predicted to remain in rugby despite an anticipated swoop from NRL clubs for the triple-code sensation.

"He's not going anywhere, surely," Phipps told reporters today.

"I can confidently say he really enjoys it here in not only the Waratahs but also the Wallabies.

"He loves the group, he loves the people he gets to play with.

"Hopefully they can sort that out pretty quickly and keep him a Waratah for life."

Nick Phipps of the Wallabies

Folau, 28, skipped Australia's end-of-season tour of Japan and Europe last year when given an extended break to recharge his batteries.

He spent most of that time with his new wife, New Zealand netball star Maria Tutaia, who he married in Sydney in November and has since taken on Folau's surname.

Folau also won his third John Eales Medal as Australia's best player in October and seemed to have only rugby on his mind in a lengthy column on the PlayersVoice website he wrote when the shock news of his sabbatical first emerged.

Phipps said he hadn't missed a beat in his training comeback.

"He's good. I don't think he's had an off-season, he looks so good," he said.

"Straight back into it and that leadership he provides around the group, especially a lot of those younger Polynesian boys, is so invaluable for us.

"I think after that break he's so excited to get back into it and I'm so excited to see how he goes over the next two years leading into the World Cup."

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