Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Langman makes fast start with Swifts

Laura Langman. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Laura Langman. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Silver Ferns midcourter Laura Langman is a perfect fit for the Australian style of play, according to her new coach across the Tasman.

Langman, who became the first high-profile New Zealand player to take up a contract with an Australian franchise when she signed with the NSW Swifts for the 2016 season, was back in Auckland last week running rings around her former Mystics teammates in a pre-season friendly.

Despite having only been in full training with her new team for two weeks, Langman looked entirely comfortable in Swifts line-up, slotting in well alongside the likes of Australian internationals Kim Green and Paige Hadley.

Swifts coach Rob Wright said Langman has all the physical and mental attributes to make the adjustment to the Australian style.

"She likes to play one on one defence - she's really strong in that situation - so she actually fits into our game style really well.

And she is just a quality person, she works incredibly hard."

Off the court, Langman seems to have fit in well with the Swifts culture as well, with her new teammates selecting the veteran midcourter as their vice captain, with Green to lead the side for the fifth consecutive season.

Langman said she was humbled to be selected to play a leadership role with the Swifts in her first season.

"I've always admired the NSW Swifts for their professionalism and ambition to always improve and evolve," she said.

"Now that I'm part of the Club, I can honestly say the reality has far exceeded the expectations and I'm excited about what this dynamic roster can achieve this season."

With a longer lead-in time to the ANZ Championship this year after the season was bumped forward in 2014 and 2015 due to two pinnacle events - the Commonwealth Games and last year's World Cup - Langman has a bit more time to learn the new systems and structures at the Swifts, as well as adjust to life in general in Sydney.

She said the preseason trip to New Zealand, which also included two hit-outs against the Magic, came at the right time as it gave her a chance to work on building new combinations across successive days.

And it meant she got those awkward meetings against her former franchises out of the way early.

"I did joke to Rob 'you could have picked one of the other three teams I haven't played for'. I think for me it's weird because I always saw myself as Waikato born and bred and never thought I would leave the region. I have spread my wings a little bit but it's great to be able to experience other environments," she said.

"It's pretty good timing as well to come back here and get a little bit of time at home, and then I'll head back to Sydney and knuckle down."

Langman said she is particularly enjoying the opportunity to play alongside Green - a player she has gone head-to-head in the midcourt with plenty of times across the course of her 132-test career.

"What I really love is that man we can generate quite a lot of speed, and that's something I love to play with. I probably need to work on the finesse and the control, and that is what [Green] does really well so I'm trying to learn off her in that respect."

Auckland will play host to several more visiting franchises next month, with the official ANZ Championship preseason to return with two three-day events to be held simultaneously at The Trusts Arena and Sydney Olympic Park.

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