'She's gone quiet': Sad truth about Maria Folau's sudden retirement

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

New Zealand netball coach Noeline Taurua has revealed Maria Folau had to be convinced to go public with her retirement on Tuesday.

The Silver Ferns shooting great retired from all forms of netball, ending her 150-cap career with a low-key farewell.

A Netball New Zealand press release confirmed the 32-year-old had hung up her bib, having played her final Tests in the recent Constellation Cup series loss to Australia.

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But according to Taurua, Folau didn’t even want the press release to happen.

“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 told Radio Sport.

“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.

“We’ve respected her for that, I’m really glad that she’s actually done a media release, it’s actually a positive because if she had her own way, she’ll just go off into the sunset.

Maria and Israel Folau leave Federal Court after meeting with Rugby Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

“That’s a start and hopefully, we can get her back in and pay tribute to her in the near future.”

A hugely popular figure throughout her Test career, which began as an 18-year-old, Folau chose to withdraw from the limelight over the past two years because of the public furore surrounding her husband, former Wallabies rugby star Israel Folau.

Supportive of her husband's ardent religious beliefs and by his side throughout a legal battle with his former employers Rugby Australia, she became a source of some antagonism.

She has given one interview to media this year - a brief television chat after the World Cup final.

Even the press release on Tuesday didn't feature any comment from the player.

“It got a wee bit dicey especially as we headed into the Netball World Cup and there’s been a lot going on,” Taurua said.

“I think the professionalism from not only of her but also the Silver Ferns squad to be able to back her.

“She’s heading into new realms in her own life and we’re really happy for her. She’s in love and everything is so positive for her at the moment.”

Maria Folau during the 2019 Constellation Cup. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Folau remembered as one of the greats

Known for deadly shooting radar, particularly from distance, Folau became a regular fixture for the Silver Ferns and was a key figure when they pipped the Diamonds in the final of this year's World Cup in Liverpool.

That gold medal added to three world championship silvers and two Commonwealth Games golds.

Taurua said Folau will be remembered as one of New Zealand's greatest players.

"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."

She finishes as the second most-capped Silver Fern in history behind Laura Langman.

with AAP