Silver Ferns Legend Maria Folau Calls Time On Career
Veteran netballer Maria Folau has officially called time on her illustrious career.
Speculation around the shooter's future was at an all time high with the Silver Ferns naming their side for the Vitality Nations Cup in England on Tuesday morning.
Just minutes after the squad was announced, without Maria, the Silver Ferns announced her retirement from the game.
"Silver Ferns great Maria Folau has called time on an illustrious career, which will see her go down in history as one of netball’s best ever shooters," the statement said.
"The Silver Fern icon has retired from all netball, playing her final Test series during October’s Constellation Cup."
Maria has endured a difficult year off the court, standing by her husband Israel Folau after he took on Rugby Australia for what he claimed was unfair dismissal following a homophobic social media post.
In June, Former Diamond Liz Ellis slammed Netball South Australia and the Adelaide Thunderbirds (Maria's Super Netball team) for not taking a stance after Maria supported Israel's GoFundMe page with a post on social media.
Maria finishes her career with 150 caps for the Silver Ferns, a Netball World Cup gold medal and two silvers, two Commonwealth Games gold medals and two silvers and three FAST5 Netball World Series titles.
But it is Maria's long-range shooting style that the iconic player will be remembered for.
“There is something special about watching Maria seamlessly land those long-range goals from any point in the shooting circle without a furrowed brow,' said Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua.
"You cannot consistently shoot like that unless you are dedicated and committed to your craft. She will be long remembered for what she has brought to the game, and we will dearly miss her."
Taurua spoke to New Zealand's Radio Sport after the announcement, and praised Folau on her professional attitude in the lead up to the World Cup in England, despite her personal life.
"It got a wee bit dicey, especially as we headed into the Netball World Cup and there's been a lot going on," she said
"I think the professionalism from not only her but also the Silver Ferns squad to be able to back her."
The Silver Ferns coach also admitted Folau had been pushed into making a public announcement about her playing future.
"I think over the last couple of years she has gone quiet in regards to the whole social media thing and what's been happening privately," Taurua said.
"She has really shied away in media not only when she's been away from the Silver Ferns but also within the mix as well."
Jennie Wyllie, Netball New Zealand Chief Executive, said it is a significant day for New Zealand netball.
“Her service to the sport and dedication to New Zealand Netball is something we are very thankful for and we wish Maria all the best for her future," she said.
“Her resume speaks volumes to the talented athlete that Maria is."
Domestically, Maria began her career with the Auckland Diamonds before moving to the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.
Maria then moved to the Northern Mystics in 2010, where she played in the ANZ Premiership for eight years, before a final season the Super League with Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Maria finishes her international career as the second-most capped player in the Silver Ferns' history.