Gibson believes Folau is happy at Tahs

Adrian Warren
NSW Waratahs are hopeful they'll retain Israel Folau, who is yet to confirm his playing future

NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson says there's every indication his superstar back Israel Folau is happy at the Super Rugby club and he's also backed captain Michael Hooper to be fit for Australia's first Rugby Championship game.

Australia's representation in the Super Rugby competition ended last weekend when the Waratahs lost their semi-final to the Lions in Johannesburg.

With teams travelling overseas in the finals disadvantaged, Gibson liked the idea of having a break during the series, along the lines of the NFL,where there is a week off before the Superbowl.

NSW arrived home on Monday, with their established Test stars not having to go into the Wallabies camp until Sunday.

Gibson expected some of their other players on the fringe of the Wallabies squad to get a run in Friday's trial game in Sydney.

Speculation has surrounded Folau's future, with suggestions he could head to Queensland, though Gibson remained hopeful the star back would stick with the Tahs

"Obviously a lot of those negotiations are with Rugby Australia, but certainly every indication is that Israel is really happy here," said Gibson, who is soon expected to re-sign as head coach for another two years.

Wallabies and Waratahs leader and flanker Hooper hasn't played since injuring his hamstring early in the final Test against Ireland on June 23, missing the Tahs last five games,

Gibson expects the forward to be right for the August 18 clash with the All Blacks in Sydney.

"Hoops is tracking really well," Gibson said.

"I know he's getting a little frustrated with the delay and where he wants to be, but certainly he's on course, from what I understand, to be available for that Bledisloe."

Gibson felt Australian players were in a good space going into that game.

"I think it's been a good year for Australian rugby in terms of Super Rugby," he said.

"In my view, the gap is closing against New Zealand, particularly the performances of all Australian sides against New Zealand opposition this year, so I think we're trending and heading in the right direction."

Gibson endorsed the trial between the Wallabies squad and a team primarily comprised of other players drawn mostly from Super Rugby sides.

"I think it's become vital now, the short preparation time, getting a new team together and giving it a hitout against some quality opposition," he said.

"I think its the right thing, but finding that opposition is a bit tough at the moment, but I fully support what Australia are doing."

He will be reviewing the Tahs roster with some spots to fill, with backs Taqele Naiyaravoro, Andrew Kellaway and Irae Simone leaving and veteran prop Paddy Ryan not having his contract renewed.