How do you solve a problem like Maria?
It’s a conundrum the Diamonds are still attempting to solve hours out from their Netball World Cup final showdown with New Zealand – and potent goal attack Maria Tutaia.
A veteran of two world titles and 101 Test caps, the 28-year-old Tutaia is the linchpin of the Silver Ferns’ attack and has been a major factor in the side’s undefeated campaign.
Her coolness under pressure and penchant for deadly long bombs helped undo Australia in Sunday’s final preliminary-round match.
In Saturday’s 50-39 semi-final triumph over England, she was devastating, shooting 35 of her team’s goals and leaving shooter Bailey Mes to clean up only 15.
It’s far more than most goal attacks generally shoot and Diamonds captain Laura Geitz said her style of lobbing them in from the edge of the circle was difficult to counter.
“Maria’s obviously very, very confident now down the attack end, just shooting,” Geitz said.
“It’s probably a different game plan to most attackers, (usually) you want to push away from the post.
“With her you actually want to push her close to the post.”
Coupled with the revelation of Mes, whose form has been spot on this tournament, the Silver Ferns will bring a devastating and very mobile attack against Australia.
It will be no small task for Diamonds goal defence Julie Corletto, who will match up against Tutaia in her 52nd and final Test match before she retires from netball.
Though she pointed out she at least has a bit of intel from their time playing alongside one another at New Zealand’s Northern Mystics.
“She’s an old teammate of mine and someone I’ve gone up against for so many years now,” Corletto said.
“Her combination with Bailey has certainly come a long way over the past few years.
“Those two are in fine form.”