Netball World Cup 2019: Geva Mentor hopes for no Maria Folau 'backlash'

Geva Mentor and Maria Folau
Geva Mentor of the Collingwood Magpies (right) embraces Adelaide Thunderbirds shooter Maria Folau

England's Geva Mentor says she hopes there is no "backlash" towards New Zealand shooter Maria Folau at the Netball World Cup.

Folau, 32, publicly supported her husband, the Australian rugby player Israel, when he was sacked for a social media post in which he said "hell awaits" gay people.

"Maria's in a hard place," Mentor said.

"You stay quiet, you're not supporting your husband; you speak up, you support your husband but you get backlash."

She added: "Everyone is entitled to their own view but they [the Folaus] have to understand that they are in an influential position and they are so public they have to keep tabs on it.

"There is no room for homophobia in netball and we have players that are [gay] in England and Australia, and it is putting them in uncomfortable positions."

Following Israel's post in April, Adelaide Thunderbirds attacker Maria shared a post from her husband on social media in June, asking people to support his legal action against his sacking, but Australia's netball authorities will not take any action against her.

'The dream would be to face Australia in the final'

Caitlin Bassett and Geva Mentor
Mentor would like to meet former Sunshine Coast Lightning team-mate Caitlin Bassett (left) in the World Cup final

Commonwealth champions the Roses begin their World Cup campaign on the opening day of the tournament at Liverpool Arena on 12 July, and Mentor - who has played domestic netball in Australia for 11 years - is relishing being back on home soil for the first summer in a decade.

She was speaking to BBC Sport following the publication of her new autobiography, Leap.

The Bournemouth-born netballer, who won bronze at the 2011 and 2015 World Cups but has never played in a final, said: "It's been an amazing buzz in the camp so far and we're excited to be in the England environment.

"It's an opportunity to rewrite history and we are ready for redemption [England lost in the semi final stage in the past two World Cups].

"It is all about looking forward rather than looking back, and as a team our minds have shifted to what we want to do and what we are capable of.

"The dream would be to play Australia in the final but I'm happy to play anyone, as along as we're there."

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women's sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women's sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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