Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua has described how clearing the air over Maria Folau’s support of her controversial husband paved the way for Netball World Cup glory.
Taurua said a no holds barred meeting was staged before the team left for Liverpool, with players given a platform to express their feelings toward Israel Folau’s polarising views on homosexuality and how it might affect their longstanding bond with his wife.
Key shooter Maria Folau had previously tweeted support of her Wallabies star husband’s fundraising efforts to cover costs after Rugby Australia terminated his contract.
Taurua sensed the issue would be one that clouded her team’s campaign, both externally and internally, unless it was nipped in the bud.
“We had a meeting first up because it was hot off the press and it needed to be addressed for not only from Maria’s perspective but for us as a team,” she told Radio Sport.
It was a testing time for our team to see whether we were going to galvanise around her and whether we were prepared to support her and express the thoughts of where people were sitting individually.”
Taurua wouldn’t reveal details but said she was pleased to learn the players would throw their support behind their long-time teammate during what was going to be a challenging tournament for the 32-year-old.
“The support and love for Maria, and the understanding that she is a player, she’s an athlete but also she’s a wife, and how difficult of a position that would be where you can’t 100 per cent support your husband whether we agree with those issues or not,” Taurua said.
“As it came out, it brought us closer together.”
With her husband in the stands, Folau emerged a stand-out performer as New Zealand broke a 16-year drought.
Last month’s 52-51 win over Australia in the final may have been her final Test but she is yet to declare her intentions.