Maria Folau in tears in heartbreaking on-court moment at Constellation Cup

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Maria Folau couldn’t hold back the tears on Wednesday night before the second Constellation Cup match between Australia and New Zealand in Auckland.

Folau could be seen tearing up as the New Zealand national anthem was played - in what many believe was a clear indication she’s retiring from national duty.

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With the series now heading to Sydney and Perth for the final two matches, some think Folau may have played her final match for New Zealand on home soil.

Folau dropped somewhat of a bombshell earlier this week when she rejected an offer to return to the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Australia’s Super Netball league.

Maria Folau in action for New Zealand. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Folau, the wife of axed Wallabies star Israel Folau, won the Thunderbirds' best-and-fairest award for 2019 but won't return to the Adelaide club or any Super Netball rival.

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua shot down speculation about Folau's future after the loss to Australia on Wednesday, saying she was believed Folau would be available for the Netball Nations Cup in January.

"Man, she was massive. She showed so much heart and grit out there,” Taurua said.

"We're happy every day that she's with us and what will be will be as this series ends."

The 32-year-old Folau's season in Adelaide was marred by the furore surrounding her husband's religious social media posts.

Maria Folau was emotional on Wednesday night. Image: Sky Sports NZ

Israel Folau's contract with Rugby Australia was terminated after his posts. He is now embroiled in an unfair dismissal case against rugby's governing body.

Maria Folau was drawn into the controversy in June when, on her social media accounts, she shared Israel's crowd-funding campaign for his legal fight. The campaign was later shutdown.

Australian netball hierarchy investigated Maria's actions but ruled she didn't breach any of the competition's rules.

Adelaide were keen to re-sign Folau but the Kiwi veteran rejected overtures to return.

Diamonds level Constellation Cup ledger

Australia atoned for their first-up loss to New Zealand with a 48-42 victory in Auckland.

Lisa Alexander's team lifted for the master coach in her 100th Test, levelling the four match series at 1-1 on Wednesday night.

Gretel Tippett (23/24) was supreme under the ring, ably assisted by captain Caitlin Bassett (17/20) and Tegan Philip (8/9).

But this was a win masterminded by the back.

Goal keeper Courtney Bruce subdued the Folau-led Silver Ferns attack with an intensity that lifted the whole Diamonds side.

Maria Folau shoots during the Constellation Cup match between New Zealand and Australia. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

She made five intercepts and was called for obstruction just four times in a defensive masterclass.

"She just controlled the circle. She patrolled the circle tonight. It was absolutely fantastic to watch," Alexander said.

Only once in the match did the contest look to be slipping from Australia's grasp - the third-quarter spell when Folau (31/41) sank six shots without reply to whittle the Diamonds' lead from 10 to four.

The veteran attacker had a chance to narrow the lead to three on the eve of the last change, only to miss a long-range effort.

The four-Test series now heads to Sydney and Perth, where wins would allow Australia to retain the trans-Tasman trophy for the seventh-straight time.

with AAP