Most read story: 'I am extremely devastated' - Silver Ferns star Maria Folau apologises for 'insensitive' self-harm comments

This story was first published on Tuesday September 18.

Silver ferns Maria Folau (C looks to shoot during the Netball Quad Series Silver Ferns vs South Africa at the ASB Baypark arena in Tauranga on Tuesday the 18th September 2018. Copyright Photo by Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz
Silver Ferns shooter Maria Folau in action against South Africa during a Quad Series match in Tauranga. Source: Photosport

Silver Ferns star shooter Maria Folau has apologised for making a comment about self-harm, following her side's Quad Series loss against England on Saturday.

Folau was asked about her side's performance in the shooting circle when they were outclassed by England 52-39, with the veteran shooter making the self-harm comment on television.

"I'm not slitting my wrists in the room or anything and neither are the other shooters as well, we've just got to get on with it," said Folau.

The 31-year-old was criticised for her comments by the public.

She told the Herald she was sorry for the "insensitive comment" and said she didn't mean to offend anyone.

"I wish to apologise for my insensitive comment on Newshub last night, I in no way meant to upset and offend people," said Folau.

"I am extremely devastated, and I understand the serious issue that New Zealand has with suicide rates."

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'We have to keep getting better' - Aussies not allowing themselves to be content after big win over Silver Ferns

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander won't let her side forget their Commonwealth Games heartbreak as Australia aims for a ninth-straight win against New Zealand tomorrow.

Australia are experiencing a rare period of dominance over their traditional netball rivals and will enter Townsville's Constellation Cup fixture as short as $1.10 favourites with some bookies to extend that winning streak.

But the wounds have barely healed since England's shock 52-51 defeat of the Diamonds in April to claim Commonwealth gold and Alexander says the bitter taste of that loss would be enough to stave off any complacency.

"What we've tried to engender in this group is a growth and learning mindset," she said.

"We're never where we want to be, we know we have to keep getting better.

"If we don't, and stand still, the other teams are going to catch us up which we saw in that Commonwealth Games gold medal final when England beat us by one on that buzzer."

Australia are 4-0 in Tests since then, including an emotional 52-47 defeat of England and a 57-42 win against the Silver Ferns in Brisbane on Sunday.

The Diamonds are wary of what's to come though under new coach Noelene Taurua and comeback captain Laura Langman.

The pair combined with Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett to win the inaugural Super Netball title with the Sunshine Coast.

Langman didn't play last season but was voted in as captain on her return to international netball following the Commonwealth Games.

She will surpass Irene van Dyk as New Zealand's most-capped netballer when she earns her 146th start in Townsville.

"Playing 145 Tests for your country is incredible ... I love her to bits but don't want it to be a successful game for her," Bassett said.
"We'll be working hard to shut her down."

Alexander said there were plenty of sore bodies but no injury concerns after a "pretty brutal" Brisbane encounter.

The four-Test series will be completed in New Zealand with games in Hamilton on October 14 and Wellington on October 18.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Maria Folau of the Silver Ferns passes the ball during the Quad Series International Test match between the Australian Diamonds and the New Zealand Silver Ferns at Hisense Arena on September 23, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)
Maria Folau of the Silver Ferns passes the ball during the Quad Series International Test match between the Australian Diamonds and the New Zealand Silver Ferns at Hisense Arena in Melbourne. Source: Getty


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Silver Ferns bemoan poor performance against Aussies - 'It's just not good enough'

The Australian Diamonds have recovered from a slow start to beat New Zealand's Silver Ferns 57-42 in the first of netball's four-game Constellation Cup series in Brisbane.

Coming into the game after winning the Quad Series with New Zealand, South Africa and England, the Diamonds struggled early but a six-goal burst in the second quarter secured them a comfortable win, their eighth straight over the Silver Ferns.

In a match where all 12 Diamonds got on the court, skipper Caitlin Bassett and goal attack Steph Wood played the first half before Caitlin Thwaites and Gretel Tippett took the court after the long break.

Bassett scored 17 from 21 shots and Wood seven from 11, while Thwaites and Tippett were perfect from 21 and 12 shots respectively.
Maria Folau led the way for the Silver Ferns, shooting 26 from 29.

Australian coach Lisa Alexander's side were a little fortunate to be level at 10-all after an error-strewn first quarter but steadied.

"We were a little bit stunned I think but we worked our way back into it which was terrific," Alexander said.

"It was quite an outlier of a quarter. To change it up at quarter-time and really put the foot down and play some good netball in that second quarter was pleasing.

"Sometimes you have to grind it out and get on with it."

The Silver Ferns' mid-game slump was particularly disappointing for the visitors, who pushed the Diamonds to five points in their Quad Series clash a fortnight ago.

Veteran New Zealand centre Laura Langman bemoaned their inability to put a full game together.

"We said right from the outset we wanted consistent performances and we definitely didn't do that today," Langman said.

"Straight after the game all of us identified those soft errors. I was guilty of a number today. It's just not good enough and not international standard.

"We've got to sort that out and that will put us in the fight when that happens."

The teams will meet again in Townsville on Wednesday before ending the series with two games across the ditch.


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Watch: Silver Ferns defenders execute unique lift technique against Aussie shooters

The Silver Ferns have been handed a heavy loss in their first Constellation Cup Test against Australia this afternoon but that didn't stop them from trying a few things late in the game.

After a tight first quarter finished at 10-10, Australia surged to 24-16 halftime thanks to their defence not allowing any easy ball into Maria Folau and Aliyah Dunn.

Despite Jane Watson and Katrina Grant doing their best to apply the same pressure at the other end, the Aussies continued to build on their advantage and took a 44-27 lead into the final quarter.

But that didn't mean Grant would stop trying. After Sulu Fitzpatrick was subbed into the game for Watson, the duo combined on two occasions for attempted lifts to block the Aussie shooters.

While neither came off, the Brisbane crowd was impressed with their efforts as they continued to fight in the game.

The Diamonds sealed the win 57-42 in the end with the next Test in the four-game series taking place on Wednesday in Townsville.


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As it happened: Silver Ferns comprehensively beaten in physical Constellation Cup opener against Aussies

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live updates of this afternoon's Constellation Cup Test between the Silver Ferns and Australian Diamonds at Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Brisbane.

FT: AUS 57-42 NZL

That wraps it. Aussies went up another level after that tight first quarter and the Silver Ferns just couldn't keep up. The Kiwis struggled to get the ball into the circle all afternoon and it shows on the scoreboard. Plenty to work on but they'll take some positives in "winning" the final quarter, 15-13. That does it for us. Have a good afternoon.

Q4: 1:41: AUS 56-41 NZL

Shooters continue to trade shots as the clock ticks down. Kiwis still hold a 14-12 quarter lead. They'll want to come away with something from this game and that could well be it.

Q4: 4:05: AUS 53-38 NZL

Australia retake control of the game as Selby-Rickit misses. Some great feeds into the circle by the Aussies is makin gtheir shooting really easy late here.

Q4: 6:08: AUS 49-37 NZL

Folau looking more and more comfortable at goal shoot in this final quarter partnered with Selby-Rickit. Finding space, getting good shots off. It's just come too little too late.

Q4: 7:52: AUS 47-35 NZL

Strong start for the Silver Ferns to the quarter continues as Grant collects another intercept. A game leading fourth of the game. Folau Converts and the Silver Ferns cut it to 12.

Q4: 12:18: AUS 46-30 NZL

Silver Ferns are again called for held ball. The eighth time tonight. Luckily, Langman quashes it with an intercept and Selby-Rickit converts. Lead is still 16.

Q4: 15:00: AUS 44-27 NZL

NZ gets the final quarter going.

Q3: 0:00: AUS 44-27 NZL

Aussies sneak one last goal in before the whistle to push the lead to 17. They are simply playing on a different level from the Silver Ferns right now. The struggles to get the ball into the circle have continued and looked even harder in that last 15. It would be a miracle to claw this back.

Q3: 2:12: AUS 41-25 NZL

Aussies reply with some impressive defence and force another two turnovers. They convert on both turnovers and their own centre passes and now the lead is 16.

Q3: 3:50: AUS 37-25 NZL

Nice little spurt from NZ as Folau adds two more. She's shooting at 88 per cent so far today.

Q3: 5:35: AUS 37-23 NZL

Special moment for Sulu Fitzpatrick as she enters the game for Watson. Hats off to Watson. She has given it her all out there. Hopefully Fitzpatrick comes in with the same intensity.

Q3: 6:58: AUS 35-21 NZL

The Aussie defence relentlessly keeps the pressure on NZ's feed into the circle but eventually it gets to Folau and she converts from mid range.

Q3: 8:33: AUS 34-20 NZL

Langman turns the ball over at the centre pass. Australia attack down the left edge and feed the ball easily into the circle. Lead pushed out to a game-high 14.

Q3: 10:12: AUS 29-19 NZL

Good fight back from the Kiwis as they force the first turnover by the Aussies this half. Folau and Wilson convert at the other end.

3Q: 12:18: AUS 29-17 NZL

Kiwis under all sorts of pressure to start the third quarter as the Aussies come out firing and force a pair of turnovers. They convert at the other end and suddenly its a 12-point gap. 

3Q: 15:00: AUS 24-16 NZL

Aussies get us back underway. 

HT: AUS 24-16 NZL

Too many errors with the ball in hand has cost the Kiwis. Watson and Grant are having a blinder defensively but the attack is letting them down. Six held-balls so far this game. Aussies are really pressuring the pathways into the circle and it showed in that second quarter. We'll be back soon.

2Q: 3:00: AUS 22-15 NZL

More silly errors in the mid court and around the circle see more silly turnovers and the Aussies are ruthless in making them hurt. Seven point lead all of a sudden. And this is despite NZ having the better shooting percentage. It just shows how much they're struggling to get the ball in.

2Q: 4:55: AUS 19-15 NZL

Maia Wilson comes in for Dunn as Folau knocks one down for mid range.

2Q: 6:30: AUS 19-14 NZL

Watson forces a turnover under the hoop and NZ gets it down to other end but Dunn can't convert! 

2Q: 8:35: AUS 17-13 NZL

Watson and Grant are giving it their all in the circle to deny the Aussies but the ball movement and Bassett's presence is hard to counter. Teams trade goals but you feel the Aussies are starting to find their footing in this match.

2Q: 10:55: AUS 15-11 NZL

Folau lines up a shot from deep but she holds it too long and gets called for the held ball. Aussies convert at the other end before pushing the lead to four on their own centre pass. NZ need a response here.

2Q: 12:12: AUS 13-11 NZL

Folau overcooks her pass and it goes out of bounds. Aussies take the opportunity to score against the grain and then convert on their own centre pass. Early two point lead.

2Q: 13:32: AUS 10-11 NZL

NZ centre pass to start but the Aussies nab an early intercept. They can't convert and NZ move the ball down the right edge. Folau feeds to Dunn under the hoop and she gets it.

1Q: 0:00: AUS 10-10 NZL

Folau nails a mid-range shot to tie it at the whistle. Physical first 15 minutes from both sides here as the defences make themselves known in the match. Forcing a lot of pressure and it's translating to turnovers. Silver Ferns will be annoyed they let the Aussies back in towards the end. They controlled the game for a moment there.

1Q: 1:35: AUS 9-9 NZL

Silly error at centre pass sees the Silver Ferns turn it over with a replay ball. Aussie tie it up with 90s left in the quarter.

1Q: 3:02: AUS 7-8 NZL

Australia respond immediately and force an error in the midcourt. Cut the lead to one. 

1Q: 4:36: AUS 4-7 NZL

NZL get a break after Grant makes an intercept! The ball is flung down the right edge and fed to Folau. Folau gets it. Aussies respond with an intercept of their own but they can't make the shot stick at the other end. Ball moves down the left edge and fed to Dunn. Dunn scores. Watson gets in with another intercept. Big pass to Folau and the Silver Ferns are up by three!

1Q, 8:00: AUS 3-3 NZL

Silver Ferns struggling to get the ball into the circle. Langman gets obstructed and uses the advantage to find Folau. Folau from mid range misses but Kiwis retain it. She's on song second time round.

1Q, 10:30: AUS 2-2 NZL

Defence the story so far as both teams are forcing errors left and right. We've had four turnovers from each side now for holding the ball too long. Finally, the Aussies find a break down the left side of the court and even things up.

1Q, 13:34: AUS 1-1 NZL

Shaky start from both sides. Australia get their first goal but the Silver Ferns see their first attempt to reach the shooting circle intercepted. Aussies get it to the other end and the shot misses! Ball gets to Folau and she sinks it. 

CENTRE PASS

Australia gets us going in Brisbane!

PREVIEW

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Maria Folau of the Silver Ferns passes the ball during the Quad Series International Test match between the Australian Diamonds and the New Zealand Silver Ferns at Hisense Arena on September 23, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)
Maria Folau of the Silver Ferns passes the ball during the Quad Series International Test match between the Australian Diamonds and the New Zealand Silver Ferns at Hisense Arena in Melbourne. Source: Getty

Their shock Commonwealth Games result still stings but Australia are more wary of New Zealand's post-Gold Coast response in the Constellation Cup netball series.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander believes their recent Quad Series success had helped exercise their demons since the Gold Coast Games where they were upset by England in the gold medal playoff.

However, Alexander said they were bracing for a backlash from the Silver Ferns who are rebuilding from their dire Commonwealth Games campaign.

Australia begin their four-match series against New Zealand in Brisbane on Sunday.

New coach Noeline Taurua took over the New Zealand reins after the once mighty Silver Ferns were defeated by minnows Malawi and failed to nab a Gold Coast medal.

Alexander said Taurua had brought a "hard edge" to New Zealand since taking over for three games in the Quad Series where Australia went through undefeated, also downing England and South Africa.

The Diamonds ended their Quad Series tournament with a hard-fought 60-55 win over the revamped Silver Ferns.

"You could see already the aura around the team Noeline has created and that hard edge," Alexander said.

"She said she was going to make changes and she did. They have brought some extra grunt into their defence so that will be tough for us.

"We need to make sure we get our connections right in attack."

Australia's Quad Series success was an encouraging start to life without retired stalwarts Laura Geitz, Susan Pettitt, Madi Robinson and Sharni Layton.

"The Commonwealth Games result hurt us a lot. Now we can put that behind us and we can put out better performances each time," Diamonds vice-captain Gabi Simpson said.

Alexander was confident the Gold Coast ghosts would no longer haunt the Diamonds after addressing the elephant in the room before the Constellation Cup.

"We have spoken about it because there is no point in just ignoring it," she said of their Gold Coast result.

"With eight athletes still in the team we had to face up to it.

"It wasn't good enough from our point of view.

"What we have to do is learn from it and I think we have in terms of our resilience, making sure we are mentally prepared when game time comes."

The Constellation Cup moves to Townsville on Wednesday before the series moves to New Zealand.

SQUADS

NZL: Gina Crampton, Aliyah Dunn, Sulu Fitzpatrick, Maria Folau, Katrina Grant, Laura Langman (captain), Erikana Pedersen, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Sam Sinclair, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Jane Watson, Maia Wilson.

AUS: Jessica Anstiss, Caitlin Bassett, April Brandley, Courtney Bruce, Renae Ingles, Sarah Klau, Emily Mannix, Kate Moloney, Tegan Philip, Jamie-Lee Price, Kim Ravaillion, Gabi Simpson, Caitlin Thwaites, Gretel Tippett, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Stephanie Wood