Netball: Langman eyes milestone test for Silver Ferns

By Dana Johannsen

Indispensable midcourter is determined to avoid the `soft errors' of her game against Jamaica in tomorrow's clash with England.

Laura Langman will play her 100th international tomorrow. Photo / Getty Images
Laura Langman will play her 100th international tomorrow. Photo / Getty Images

It is little surprise Laura Langman is set to notch up her 100th consecutive test appearance for the Silver Ferns when you consider her attitude to the impending milestone.

Since she first burst on to the national scene in her trademark long socks at just 18 years old, Langman has never missed a game for the Ferns. This despite reinventing herself from a wing defence to centre and occasional wing attack over that time.

When she takes the court against England tomorrow Langman will become just the second midcourter in world netball to reach the 100-test mark behind former Ferns captain Lesley Rumball - the player she effectively pushed out of the national side - who was well into her 30s when she achieved the century.

Langman is not allowing herself any time for reflection as the milestone draws near, instead devoting her full attention to how she can improve on what she believes was a poor outing in their game against Jamaica on Saturday.

"I was really disappointed in my own performance against Jamaica, so my focus has really been around fixing some of those soft errors I made against them and just ensuring that I'm doing my job for the team because Commonwealth Games selections are on the line, so yeah, the 100th game has kind of taken a backseat," she said.

While she is rightly unwilling to take her place in the team for granted, in reality Langman's position in the line-up for Glasgow is the furthest from being under any threat.

With strong depth in their defensive end, the Ferns can get by without their inspirational captain Casey Kopua (and have frequently had to in the past three seasons given the defender's run with injuries), likewise super shooter Irene van Dyk's influence on the team has faded as New Zealand have developed more shooting options.

But take Langman out of the mix and the Ferns would be lost. It is hard to think of another New Zealand sports star more heavily relied upon in their team than Langman. New Zealand coach Waimarama Taumaunu said it was Langman's application and consistency that had made her a fixture in the Ferns' line-up since her debut.

"It's her attention to detail, to everything she does that really sets Laura apart - her preparation, strength and conditioning, recovery, nutrition. Everything she does is to a very high quality, she is one of the best-prepared athletes I've seen and that is reflected out on court."

It is fitting that Langman will bring up the big 100 against England. She made her debut against the English in 2005, and also played her 50th and 75th tests against the world No3 side.

Tomorrow is likely to see one of the strongest English line-ups Langman has come up against in her nine years in the national side, with Anna Mayes having a full complement of players to select from for the first time since the 2011 world championships.

England now have a solid core of players plying their trade in the ANZ Championship, including star defender Geva Mentor, who returns to the team after a two-year standoff with England Netball.

Laura Langman

Born: April 16,1986, Hamilton.
Silver Ferns debut: March 12, 2005, v England (age 18).
Tests: 99 (consecutive).
Full games played: 78.
Netball achievements: Captained the NZ Under-21 side to victory in the world youth champs in 2005, won gold in the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games, captained Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic to ANZ Championship title in 2012.

- NZ Herald

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