Netball: Silver Ferns shooter Maria Folau retires from netball

Silver Ferns legend Maria Folau has announced her retirement from netball.

After a sparkling career as one of the sport's greatest goal shooters, the 32-year-old will step away from the game at all levels.

Folau made her international debut as an 18-year-old in 2005 and went on to play 150 tests for New Zealand.

She won almost every major accolade the game has to offer, including a World Cup gold medal (three silvers), two Commonwealth Games gold medals (one silver) and three Fast Five Netball series.

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua said Folau would be remembered as one of New Zealand's greatest of all time.

"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 on the team's website.

"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."

Folau represented NZ at four Netball World Cups and four Commonwealth Games, and will be remembered for calmly netting the winning goal in sudden death extra time for the gold medal in Delhi in 2010.

Netball NZ chief executive Jennie Wyllie called it a landmark day in the sport's history.

"Her service to the sport and dedication to New Zealand Netball is something we are very thankful for," Wyllie added. "We wish Maria all the best for her future.

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

Folau also won NZ domestic titles with the Northern Mystics and Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.

In 2019, she moved across the Tasman to be closer to her husband - controversial former Wallabies rugby star Israel Folau - and played a season for the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the Australia Super Netball League. The pair now live in Sydney.

Folau finishes as the second most-capped Silver Fern, behind only Laura Langman.

On Tuesday, Folau was not included in a 12-strong squad for the Nations Cup in England - a group also missing veterans Langman or Katrina Rore.

Both have been given a sabbatical break, after a heavy workload over the past year, and will play no part in the four-team series with Jamaica, South Africa and England.

Joining the side are former Silver Fern Gail Parata, who has been confirmed as the touring assistant coach, while shooter Maia Wilson, and midcourters Whitney Souness and Kimiora Poi have been recalled to the playing line-up.

The tournament begins against the host nation in Nottingham on January 19.

Silver Ferns: Bailey Mes, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Maia Wilson, Gina Crampton, Shannon Saunders, Kimiora Poi, Whitney Souness, Karin Burger, Phoenix Karaka
Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Jane Watson