Maria Folau has been known over the years for her effortless playmaking and precision timing in the GA bib for New Zealand, however a new coach, and era sees her move back to GS, and needing to come to terms with her new position.
Netball Nation co-hosts Sara Bayman and Maggie Birkinshaw are in agreement they'd rather see Folau in the GA position for New Zealand, but with Ferns coach Noeline Taurua preferring the combination of Ameliaranne Ekenasio at GA and Folau at GS, the experience Folau has had to embrace the tactical switch.
31-year-old Folau admits it’s been a challenge for her, adapting to a new position - a relocation she initially wasn’t sure of.
“I was afraid of it to start with,” she says. “Goal shoot is a position where your timing must be impeccable. You’re the last port of call.
When the ball comes down, it’s your job to be available, work with your goal attack to get the ball in a shooting position and then be the king-pin underneath the hoop.
“Part of me was like, ‘Hmm, but at goal attack, you’re the playmaker, and you decide whether to shoot or not’. But at goal shoot, that’s all you. I can’t run around like a headless chook, like I did at goal attack, and that’s been a huge challenge for me.
“But I’ve grown to enjoy it. And I am going to love it.”
Noeline Taurua has won everything there is for a coach to win in domestic netball, and the pair spent two seasons together at the Magic – where Taurua boldly switched Folau to goal shoot and van Dyk to goal attack during their 2008 rise to finalists in the inaugural ANZ Championship.
“I really relish the opportunity to be under Noel’s guidance again,” says Folau. “She has taught me so much in the short time that she’s been in the Ferns environment. She was a goal attack in her day, so she knows exactly what it’s like in the circle at international level.
“For the coach to hand me the GS bib to start gives me huge confidence. But I also say to myself: ‘Righto Maria, here’s another string to add to your bow. Keep learning, keep striving, keep growing and see where to from here'.”
By Kate Lightfoot