Farewell Folau? Silver Ferns star to retire after Games
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — Gold, silver, bronze or empty handed — this will be star New Zealand goal shooter Maria Folau’s last Commonwealth Games.
The 31-year-old netballer says after four Commonwealth Games, her body has had enough.
“There is definitely no coming back to this,” Folau said in an interview Friday. “To be honest, I also don’t know if this is my last international tournament.
“I still feel great and I am enjoying my netball with these girls ... but another four-year cycle, I am no chance.”
A veteran of more than 120 games for New Zealand, she is playing a major international tournament for the first time under her married name.
She changed her family name from Tuta’ia after marrying high-profile Australian rugby player Israel Folau last November.
Folau played two quarters for the Silver Ferns in a 70-44 win over Wales, while her husband supported her at the Gold Coast Convention Centre.
It was always in New Zealand coach Janine Southby’s plans to test combinations and to sit Folau out for the second half.
There is some serious work ahead of the New Zealand team if they’re to continue their games rivalry with Australia.
Since netball was added to the Commonwealth Games program in 1998, Australia and New Zealand have played off in every gold-medal match.
But first Uganda and then Wales tested the Silver Ferns in patches — with Wales outpointing the New Zealand team in a quarter for the first time ever.
The New Zealanders have also lost their past five matches against Australia.
“Consistency is definitely a worry,” Folau said. “We haven’t been together as much as we would have liked ... A lot of us are trying to find each other. Time hasn’t been on our side.
“This is a young group but we have been working really hard. We want to do better.”
In her three previous Games, Folau has won two gold medals — in 2006 at Melbourne and 2010 at New Delhi — and a silver four years ago in Glasgow, Scotland.
Competition is intensifying from countries beyond the Tasman Sea.
“All countries are fitter, stronger and faster,” Folau said. “It’s great the game has grown and other countries are pushing New Zealand and Australia.”
The final will be played on Sunday, April 15 in the hours before the Gold Coast Games conclude with a closing ceremony.