17 Oct 2019

Silver Ferns coach wants Folau to declare her hand

1:44 pm on 17 October 2019

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua wants Maria Folau to make a decision on her playing future before the Nations Cup in the New Year.

Silver Ferns Maria Folau - Constellation Cup Game 2, between the NZ Silver Ferns v Australian Diamonds, held at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand.  16 October 2019       Photo: Brett Phibbs / www.photosport.nz

Maria Folau (right) attempting to shoot over Australian goal keep Courtney Bruce (left) Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

Folau's future beyond January's tournament is in doubt as the veteran shooter hasn't signed with a team in New Zealand or Australia.

The 32-year-old was noticeably emotional ahead of the second Constellation Cup test in Auckland, fuelling speculation it was her last appearance in New Zealand.

Taurua says they've got a bit of time after the Constellation Cup before they have to select their squad that travels to England in January.

"She hasn't said anything and to be honest I'm not really asking her either," Taurua said.

"After she plays in Constellation Cup [and] goes home [she will] take the time to reflect to help her make that decision.

"We're being very patient ... so we're still open to whatever she decides."

While Taurua says she's not pushing Folau, she's already preparing for the future without her.

"I think it's also important while that's happening that we are working that next layer underneath ... to try and build our stocks in the shooting end."

Northern Stars shooter Maia Wilson, who is 10 years Folau's junior, has travelled to Australia with the Silver Ferns for the remaining two Constellation Cup tests.

"We need to start looking to the future as well, whilst we have some of our players who are very experienced in our midst," Taurua said.

Wilson joins Folau, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Bailey Mes as Noeline Taurua's shooting options for the third test in Sydney on Sunday and the canny coach is considering changes at the attack end.

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua - Constellation Cup Game 2, between the NZ Silver Ferns v Australian Diamonds, held at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand.  16 October 2019       Photo: Brett Phibbs / www.photosport.nz

Noeline Taurua Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

The Ferns only shot 74 percent in the second test defeat, way below what Taurua believes is "necessary to win a game and be successful against Australia".

"Percentages can definitely improve. [We] weren't quite able to execute and deliver under that pressure.

"Some of it was definitely about the Australian defense, but some of it was soft turnovers and individual error.

"I also thought strategy-wise we just need to be a bit more smarter and create more space."

If she breaks up the World Cup-winning shooting combination of Folau and Ekenasio it won't be without some serious thought.

"I don't want to make selection changes willy-nilly and want to be really purposeful and specific if we do make changes why and what's the outcome going to be."

The Silver Ferns will also have increased depth at the defensive end in Australia, with Phoenix Karaka travelling with the squad after missing the second test with mild concussion.

"She pulled up yesterday very well after tests and we are working through the protocols to make sure that she will be available for Sydney so happy how she's going at this stage," Taurua said.

She says they're being very cautious with Karaka as a result of her previous concussion in this year's ANZ Premiership.

"We couldn't quite see any head knock as such out of that first test, but believe that's where it happened so we took precautionary measures to make sure that we have it all covered.

"Happy for everyone to know that she's come through really well.

"At the moment she's all ready to go and the signs are very positive she'll be out there for Sydney."