Silver Ferns shooter Maria Folau has called time on her career with the Northern Mystics after nine years with the team and has been granted an exemption to still play for New Zealand.
Folau announced today that she is making a full time move to Sydney, where her husband Israel Folau is based with the Waratahs Super Rugby side.
The Netball New Zealand Board granted Folau a 12-month exemption, deeming her eligible to play for the Silver Ferns in 2019 despite no longer being contracted to a New Zealand ANZ Premiership team.
Folau made her debut with the Northern Mystics in 2010 and has remained a mainstay of the franchise for the past nine seasons.
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"This has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make, I consider the Northern Mystics my netball family and this club will always hold a special place in my heart, but I feel the time is right for me to make a full time move to my new home in Sydney," she said.
"My life and my family are now based outside of New Zealand, so my support networks have also shifted across the Tasman".
Folau has played 128 tests for New Zealand since making her debut in 2007 and was last week named in the Silver Ferns squad to play in next month's Quad Series.
NNZ Board Chair Allison Ferguson said Folau's long and dedicated career as a Silver Fern, her personal circumstances, and her loyalty to the game here led to the exemption being granted.
"She has shown an unquestionable loyalty to Netball in New Zealand including both the Silver Ferns and Mystics," Ferguson said.
"It has been a tough season for Maria this year, now that she and her family live in Australia, travelling between the two countries to continue playing the game she has dedicated much of her life to.
"Maria's experience is really important to this young Silver Ferns squad moving forward. The NNZ Board believed granting her a 12-month exemption to be eligible for the Silver Ferns despite not being contracted to a NZ ANZ Premiership team would enable Maria to continue representing her country and mentor those new Silver Fern players coming through."