Netball: Laura Langman faces Silver Ferns ban

Laura Langman of the Silver Ferns. Photo John Davidson / Photosport.
Laura Langman of the Silver Ferns. Photo John Davidson / Photosport.

Laura Langman looks set to be blocked from playing for the Silver Ferns next season as she lines up another contract across the Tasman.

The star midcourter, who has not missed a test for the Silver Ferns since making her debut in 2005 - a run of 134 straight matches, is preparing to take a year away from the international game, opting instead to sign with an Australian club in the new domestic competition.

The move will make her ineligible to play for the Ferns, with Netball NZ's selection policy stipulating players must be based in New Zealand to be eligible for the national team.

Langman was last year granted an exemption to play for the NSW Swifts in what turned out to be the final season of the ANZ Championship, with Netball NZ supporting her decision to challenge herself in a new environment. But at that point in time, the New Zealand and Australian franchises were essentially playing in the same competition.

The decision to disestablish the transtasman league and return to separate domestic competitions in 2017, has seen Netball NZ take a more hardline stance in enforcing its selection criteria or risk opening the flood gates for players to head offshore.
The national body made its intentions clear to the players in May when it unveiled plans for the new competition.

But with Langman having found a new lease on her netballing life across the Tasman, it was always going to be a difficult decision for her to return home. The fiercely competitive Langman enjoyed the high performance culture and top notch training facilities at the Swifts, who suffered a heart-breaking double overtime loss to the Queensland Firebirds in the grand final.

Langman has entertained offers from the new Auckland franchise and her former club, the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, but it is understood despite the increased money on offer in New Zealand, neither had the overall package to woo her back.

There are still faint hopes a Kiwi franchise will come up with an 11th hour deal to keep Langman in New Zealand, but with the team rosters needing to be finalised by the end of the week, those hopes are fast fading.

While it will soon be clear whether Langman will play in Australia again next season, an announcement on which club could still be some way off.

The Australian franchises are currently unable to sign any players while the national body and players association finalise a new collective agreement.

It is no certainty that the Silver Ferns star will stay on at the Swifts, with several other franchises chasing her signature - including the new Sunshine Coast-based franchise, coached by Langman's long-time mentor, Noeline Taurua.

Taurua is believed to have assembled the makings of a strong team at the Lightning, picking up star defender Geva Mentor, while Australian shooter Steph Wood is rumoured to be considering a move to the new franchise.

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