Silver Ferns veteran Maria Folau announces retirement from all netball

Siver Ferns veteran Maria Folau has announced her retirement from all netball.

Maria Folau and Courtney Bruce has been dubbed a key battle. Source: Photosport

Netball NZ confirmed today Folau played her final game in the black dress earlier this year, with the Silver Ferns naming their squad for the Nations Cup next month.

"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," Netball NZ chief executive Jennie Wyllie said.

"Her resume speaks volumes to the talented athlete that Maria is."

Folau finishes her 14-year career with 150 Test caps, a Netball World Cup gold medal [along with three silver medals], two Commonwealth Games gold medals [one silver], a Netball World Youth Cup gold medal and three FAST5 Netball World Series titles.

After making her debut in 2005 against Jamaica, Folau built a reputation as a sharpshooter who wasn't afraid to shoot long-range goals and was often successful at it.

She finishes as the second-highest capped Silver Fern behind fellow legend and "dinosaur" Laura Langman.

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua said Folau would go down as one of New Zealand Netball's greats.

"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."

Domestically, Folau spent much of her career in Auckland with the Northern Mystics before she departed last season to join to the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Australia's Super Netball competition to ease the living conditions with her Australian husband and controversial former rugby player, Israel Folau.

Off-court battles

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Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua says Folau’s future with the team will be clearer in the next few weeks. Source: 1 NEWS

Folau's battles on the court were matched by those off it after husband Israel made headlines with his controversial social media posts that condemned homsexuals, drunks and others to Hell unless they repented to God.

What made matters worse for Maria Folau was the timing of the posts, with the second one - which also led to Israel's contract termination with Rugby Australia - taking place just a few months before the Netball World Cup in Liverpool.

Despite the stress and ongoing dramas her husband faced, Maria Folau remained quiet throughout the ordeal and tried to focus on her netball, even when Silver Ferns sponsors ANZ felt the need to distance themselves from Israel Folau's comments.

Taurua did admit to Newstalk ZB in August shortly after the Silver Ferns won the Netball World Cup the saga did take a toll on Maria Folau, though, leading management to hold a meeting early on in camp so teammates, including Maria Folau, could share their opinions.

"A lot was said but also the support and love for Maria and the understanding that she is a player, she's an athlete but also she's a wife and how difficult of a position that would be where you can't 100 per cent support your husband whether we agree with those issues or not," Taurua said at the time.

"As it came out, it brought us closer together and showed as well that once we're all on the same page, nothing is going to break us in making sure our priority was getting out there and playing on court and doing everything proud for the World Cup."

Since then, Maria Folau has remained at Israel Folau's side during his settlement case with Rugby Australia over his torn-up contract, which wrapped up earlier this month.

Taurua told 1 NEWS last week the Silver Ferns were respectful of not forcing a decision from Folau about her future while the case was ongoing.

"She’s been quite busy over the last couple of weeks in regards to what’s happening," a laughing Taurua said after being asked about Maria Folau’s future.

"We are working with her but also quite respectful of what’s happening in her private life," Taurua said.

Maria Folau has not yet made any comment today about her retirement.