THE next instalment in the Draft Central Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two fan favourites from across the netball world, with the next showcasing New Zealand Silver Ferns goalers, Maria Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio.
Both impressive goalers in their own way, Folau and Ekenasio’s respective journeys to the top level could not have been more different. But where their differences lie is where the Ferns grew with the duo at the post, both able to use their clean hands and strong drive to the circle to create a formidable goal attack role. With impressive skill and strength to withstand any number of intense defenders, Folau and Ekenasio were both crucial cogs in the goal circle for the Ferns, able to apply consistent scoreboard pressure and adapt to the situation in the game. Able to adapt their craft at the post to shoot from long or short range, both goalers plied their trade at the top level with perceived ease.
While long-bomb specialist Folau played back in goal shooter in the latter part of her international career, she started out in goal attack using her quick footwork and vision of space to drive down court. Renowned for her cleanliness with ball in hand and ability to put goals in from anywhere in the circle, Folau was a real threat and force to be reckoned with when she was on the court. While Folau was a shooting sensation all around the circle, it was also her movement which saw her be such a constant issue for defenders, able to rotate the circle with ease and confidently apply pressure on the defensive unit. Folau collected her final Silver Ferns cap in late 2019, hitting the 150-mark and retiring following the Constellation Cup last October.
The current Ferns captain has made massive strides over the past few years, adjusting her craft in the goal circle during the Silver Ferns’ rebuild and flourishing at the post as a real critical link down the court. Having grown up in Australia, Ekenasio was able to learn off plenty of talented Aussie names before joining the Ferns’ ranks as a dual citizen. Ekenasio’s ability to create as much play as she finishes and leadership in attack is something the Australian selectors are surely ruing as a missed opportunity while her ability to post volume and accuracy in the goal ring is a credit to her drive to go one better and improve on past form. While Ekenasio only has the 42 caps to her name, her ability to apply consistent pressure and form a constant threat at the post is sure to see her as a mainstay for the Ferns in the coming years, with her recent captaincy a tick in her favour with plenty of growth still in her sights.
150 caps, 2005-2019
42 caps*, 2014-present