'Never saw myself playing four Commonwealth Games' – evergreen Maria Folau buzzing after Gold Coast selection

Silver Ferns veteran Maria Folau as excited is as ever to don the black dress on the Gold Coast in April, earning selection for her fourth Commonwealth Games.

Folau, 30, will spearhead the Ferns' attack, looking to add to her gold medals won at the 2006 and 2010 games respectively. Folau also won a silver medal with the Ferns in the 2014 games.

Speaking to 1 NEWS today, the superstar couldn't hide her delight at getting to represent her country yet again.

"I am actually quite surprised that my body's lasted this long," Folau joked.

"I never, ever, ever saw myself playing four Commonwealth Games."

"It's always an honour and a privelege to represent New Zealand, especially at the Commonwealth Games - it'll be exciting."

Watch FULL LIVE COVERAGE of the 21st Commonwealth Games free-to-air on TVNZ from April 4, 2018.

The Silver Ferns ace has been named in the 12-strong side to compete on the Gold Coast. Source: 1 NEWS



Diamonds coach anticipating improved Silver Ferns: 'We're not taking this lightly'

The Silver Ferns' recent improvement under new coach Noeline Taurua haven't gone unnoticed, with Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander speaking of the danger facing her side in Melbourne on Sunday.

With Taurua's side picking up the first win of their new era with a 61-37 victory over South Africa in Tauranga on Tuesday, the Silver Ferns head across the ditch looking to forget a miserable past 10 months, seeing them drop to third in the world rankings for the first time ever.

Speaking at her side's training this morning, Alexander told media that Australia aren't taking this New Zealand side lightly, backing Taurua's expertise to see the Ferns being a challenge.

"Tuesday night's game against South Africa showed Noeline's ability to influence and impact the team straight away," she said.

"You've got quality players, and we've always known that.

"Noeline knows our style of play pretty well, when she's coaching in our league.

"We're not taking this lightly at all. The Kiwis will be at their full strength for this team and this series, and we'll be trying to do our best."

Lisa Alexander spoke of the danger posed by Noeline Taurua's side. Source: 1 NEWS

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Silver Ferns prepared for 'physical' battle with trans-Tasman rivals Australia

The Silver Ferns are preparing for a physical battle with their rivals Australia, as they face-off in their last Quad Series match on Sunday in Melbourne.

Under new coach Noeline Taurua the Silver Ferns are aware they are underdogs against World Champions the Australian Diamonds.

Silver Ferns midcourter Samantha Sinclair said the unbeaten Aussie side will bring the heat and pressure come Sunday.

"The key message for us is to be prepared for that physicality and be prepared for the fight that is going to come," she said. 

"Because the more prepared we can be when we get out there, the less of shock it will be."

Taurua says gaining possession and scoring off their own ball will be a crucial area in their trans-Tasman match.

"We need to be able to get more ball and keep the ball we do have," said Taurua.

"Very basic and simple we think it is, but when you have got the Australians climbing all over you it is going to be difficult."

The Silver Ferns have lost their last six Tests against the Diamonds.

New Zealand lost their first Quad Series match to England on Sunday, going down 52-39, but bounced back with a 61-37 win over South Africa on Tuesday in Tauranga.

The NZ side take on an unbeaten Diamonds side in the Quad Series in Melbourne on Sunday. Source: 1 NEWS

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'She's really convincing' - Silver Ferns upbeat about new regime ahead of Aussie challenge

A New Zealand team targeting Australia's scalp in the Quad Series have been described as a superior outfit under the new regime of Noeline Taurua and Laura Langman.

In-form wing attack Gina Crampton says the Silver Ferns environment is more positive under new coach Taurua, having laboured for four years during the reign of predecessor Janine Southby.

Successful Sunshine Coast Lightning mentor Taurua and skipper Laura Langman, the veteran midcourter back wearing black after two seasons away, appear to be making a difference.

New Zealand opened the Quad Series with a flat 52-39 loss to England in their first Test since the disastrous fourth placing at the Commonwealth Games.

Improvements were obvious in Tuesday's bounce-back 61-37 defeat of South Africa, the winning margin seven goals better than what Australia achieved against the Proteas.

The Diamonds' subsequent 52-47 win over England means New Zealand must win the trans-Tasman clash in Melbourne on Sunday by at least five goals to have any chance of snatching the Quad Series crown.

The new coach is happy with the result against South Africa but knows a much tougher task is coming. Source: 1 NEWS

Crampton, who was dropped by Southby ahead of the Commonwealth Games, said Taurua's impact had been immediate.

"I think it feels a lot more positive. I guess everyone's aware that it's trying to be a fresh start and be on the up wave," she told Sky Sport.

"She's really convincing. Anything she says, the whole team's on board and buys in. I think that's really important."

Crampton was initially surprised at how intensive Taurua had made her training sessions so close to the start of the Quad Series but said that was now paying off.

New Zealand's midcourt was more fluent against the Proteas, with player of the match Crampton feeding the shooters brilliantly in conjunction with Langman, who was restored to her familiar role of centre.

Crampton said 32-year-old Langman's professionalism and authority was inspiring.

"She's such a leader, she really takes control whether it's on attack or on defence. She talks a lot and everyone's learning a lot from her."

Silver Ferns captain Laura Langman takes a pass during the Netball Quad Series in a match between the Silver Ferns and 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 captain Laura Langman takes a pass during the Netball Quad Series in a match between the Silver Ferns and South Africa at the ASB Baypark arena in Tauranga. Source: Photosport


Australian Diamonds avenge Commonwealth Games loss to England, remain unbeaten in Quad Series

Australia have overcome some shaky first and last quarter periods to avenge their Commonwealth Games netball final loss to England with a 52-47 win over the Roses last night.

Trailing 14-9 late in the first quarter of their Quad Series game in Newcastle, Australia outscored England 15-10 in each of the the two middle terms to take control of the match.

They had a seven goal third quarter buffer slashed to two inside the last four minutes, but steadied down the stretch to beat England in the first clash between the nations since the Commonwealth Games.

"Obviously there was a little bit more fire in the belly but we did try and put it behind us and to play our game, Comm Games was a while ago now," Diamonds defender Courtney Bruce said.

"Really happy with what we were able to put out.

"It's just knowing that the game is not going to be won in a half for us and that we have to grind it out and do the hard work to get the outcome."

Australia are the only one of the four teams to win two out of two and will clinch the series with a win over New Zealand in the final round in Melbourne on Sunday.

Diamonds coach coach Lisa Alexander made one change to her starting seven, with Kelsey Brown, who made her debut off the bench in the previous game, starting at wing attack in place of Liz Watson.

Veterans Serena Guthrie and Geva Mentor won England plenty of ball in the first quarter.

The Roses ,who were without injured shooter Jo Harten, bolted to a five-goal advantage, before Australia scored the last two of the quarter.

Alexander made a change in the second quarter, bringing in Watson at centre in place of Kim Ravaillion.

The switch paid off, with Australian captain Caitlin Bassett seeing a lot more ball.

After having just six attempts in the first quarter, Bassett made all 11 of her shots in the second, in which player of the match Watson racked up nine of her 21 assists.

A run of five straight goals pushed the Diamonds into a lead of three and though England got back on level terms, Stephanie Wood notched the last two goals of the quarter to give Australia a 26-24 halftime lead.

Wood, who went into the match under an injury cloud, was replaced at halftime by Gretel Tippett after making ten out of her 12 shots.
England coach Tracy Neville made numerous changes between the second and fourth quarters.

The Roses struggled for fluency as Australia lifted their intensity, but found some rhythm in the last quarter.

Bassett finished with 37 out of 40, while Helen Housby led England's scoring with 29 from 35.

Australia defeated the England Roses 52-47 to remain unbeaten in the Quad Series. Source: SKY


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