Kiwis hail ‘big-game’ hunter Folau
Triumphant New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua has saluted Maria Folau for maintaining her on-court composure despite deafening outside noise.
Folau played a starring role in the Silver Ferns' 52-51 Netball World Cup final win over Australia to lift her first trophy.
The 32-year-old did so in trying circumstances, amid backlash over her support of husband Israel during his legal battle with Rugby Australia, who sacked the Wallabies star for his latest religion-driven homophobic social media post.
Folau took time to get her eye in but, with Israel watching from the stands, was soon lobbing her signature long bombs and nailed 28 of her 35 attempts alongside shooting partner Ameliaranne Ekenasio (24/26).
"She's a big-game breaker and a big-game player as we all know," Taurua said.
"She has been consistent in her ability to perform no matter what.
"Today is probably one of those days again where she has shone out there, which is expected I suppose because that's what we're used to from her."
Taurua revealed the Silver Ferns had made a group decision to rally around Folau who, like Israel has shunned all media apart from short courtside broadcast interviews.
"Like anybody, when stuff's happening personally or whatever there's always going to be a lot of emotion there," she said.
"We discussed it as a team when we came together in (the pre-World Cup) Cadbury Series and pretty much said we would support her, knowing how much value she has to us as a Silver Fern but also to the netball community in general.
"She's one in a million really, no one plays the game like her or can shoot like her.
"We've all bandied around each other, it's what we do and we go out there and play hard. She's been a real trooper."