Maria Folau announces retirement from Silver Ferns

Maria Folau in action for the Silver Ferns last night against the All Stars. Photo: Getty Images
Maria Folau in action for the Silver Ferns. Photo: Getty Images

Silver Ferns great Maria Folau has called time on her illustrious netball career.

The Silver Fern icon has retired from all netball, playing her final test series during October's Constellation Cup.

She signs off on an incredible career with 150 test caps, a Netball World Cup gold medal , two Commonwealth Games gold medals, a Netball World Youth Cup gold medal and a large following who have admired Folau's trademark long-range shooting for well over a decade.

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua said Folau will go down in history as one of New Zealand's netball greats of the game.

"There is something special about watching Maria seamlessly land those long-range goals from any point in the shooting circle without a furrowed brow," Taurua said.

"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."

Folau made her debut in the black dress as Maria Tutaia, an 18-year-old, in 2005 against the Sunshine Girls in Jamaica.

It was the same year she, along with two of New Zealand's other great 'fossils' including Casey Kopua and Laura Langman, won the Netball World Youth Cup with the New Zealand U21 team.

Twelve months later and Folau had become a regular starter for the Silver Ferns and has been a mainstay for the national side ever since.

Folau also competed at four Netball World Cups including in Sydney in 2015 when she became just the fourth Silver Fern to earn 100 Test caps.

This year she played a major role in helping the Silver Ferns to golden glory in Liverpool in what was her Netball World Cup swansong.

Domestically Folau spent much of her career in the blue strip of the Northern Mystics before this season suiting up for the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Australia's Super Netball competition.

She ends her time in the black dress as the second most capped Silver Fern in history behind only Laura Langman.

Meanwhile, Taurua has made three changes to her side ahead of next month's Vitality Netball Nations Cup in England.

The world champions depart for the tournament, where they will meet Jamaica, South Africa and England, without experienced duo in Langman and Katrina Rore, who will take a sabbatical break from the upcoming Nations Cup after coming off a heavy workload this season.

Joining the side for the Nations Cup will be shooter Maia Wilson and midcourters Whitney Souness and Kimiora Poi have been recalled into the national side for the tournament which begins against the host nation in Nottingham on January 19.

Taurua said the Nations Cup was an opportunity for the selected athletes to make an impression against world-class opponents.

"We are losing a lot of experience without Laura, Katrina and Maria, but it is a great chance to see what this next wave of Silver Ferns can bring to our game in the spotlight of International Test Netball," she said.

"We have some different faces in the side for this campaign but it is important that we set the bar high and keep building towards those targets."

Silver Ferns Team
Vitality Netball Nations Cup
Shooters
Bailey Mes
Ameliaranne Ekenasio
Te Paea Selby-Rickit
Maia Wilson

Midcourters
Gina Crampton
Shannon Saunders
Kimiora Poi
Whitney Souness

Defenders
Karin Burger
Phoenix Karaka
Michaela Sokolich-Beatson
Jane Watson

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