MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 02: Maria Folau holds hands with husband Israel Folau as he leaves Federal Court on December 02, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. Folau is meeting with Rugby Australia to begin mediation talks surrounding his dismissal from his Rugby Australia contract for player code breaches. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 02: Maria Folau holds hands with husband Israel Folau as he leaves Federal Court on December 02, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. Folau is meeting with Rugby Australia to begin mediation talks surrounding his dismissal from his Rugby Australia contract for player code breaches. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Folaus ‘annoy the heck out of each other’ in lockdown

Maria Folau insists she and husband Israel Folau are enjoying the restrictions of a coronavirus lockdown in France and the unexpected crowded house that has come with it.

Retired New Zealand netball great Maria and Australian cross-code superstar Israel have been consigned to their Perpignan home for more than a month and are bracing for that situation to continue.

The lockdown began in early March, three games into the former Wallabies full-back's Super League contract with French club the Catalan Dragons. In a rare interview, Maria said the enforced break had given the pair a chance to take stock and appreciate each other after many years pursuing their sporting careers, often apart.

Israel had been handed a sporting lifeline by Catalans after his Rugby Australia contract was terminated last year following the pubic airing of his homophobic religious beliefs.

Maria chose to withdraw from the limelight over the past two years because of the public furore surrounding her husband, who last December reached a court settlement with RA after challenging his ban.

Her subsequent retirement from netball was announced in a short press release that didn't do justice to her 150-Test status, having played a key role in New Zealand's World Cup triumph months earlier.

 

Israel Folau plays his first rugby super league game with The Catalan Dragons against the Castleford Tigers in Perpignan, France as fans hang a rainbow flag from the stands. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Israel Folau plays his first rugby super league game with The Catalan Dragons against the Castleford Tigers in Perpignan, France as fans hang a rainbow flag from the stands. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

 

Maria, 33, broke her silence in an interview on a Netball NZ social media channel.

While she didn't mention the issues surrounding her husband, she admitted the lockdown had its benefits after "14 years on the run" with netball. "I haven't had so much time to breathe, be still and really reflect on everything really," she said.

"Izzy and I never get this much time together. It's been really awesome for us to just do nothing and annoy the heck out of each other because that's what married couples do.

"France has been really cool to us, to be completely honest, it's been really fun and we've been enjoying this opportunity here."

 

Maria Folau supports husband Israel from the stands during a game in France. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Maria Folau supports husband Israel from the stands during a game in France. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

 

The household has swelled by three for the lockdown, which will continue in France until at least May 11.

Maria's brother, Bordeaux-based professional rugby player Masalosalo Tutaia, was visiting at the time a strict lockdown was announced, along with his fiancee and son.

They couldn't return home in time so stayed in southern France, providing company and entertainment.

Maria said she had no thoughts of playing netball again, saying the World Cup final win over Australia in Liverpool last July gave her a sense of fulfilment.

 

Originally published as Folaus 'annoy the heck out of each other' in lockdown



’To drink beer with a mate’: Your reasons for opening border

premium_icon ’To drink beer with a mate’: Your reasons for opening border

NSW residents share their most compelling reasons to open the border

Call to cancel Schoolies 2020

premium_icon Call to cancel Schoolies 2020

Calls to cancel Schoolies 2020 amid coronavirus fears

5000 ON HIGH ALERT: Panicked town mass testing for virus

5000 ON HIGH ALERT: Panicked town mass testing for virus

Two schools now closed for deep cleaning