The Herald looks at a group of young up-and-comers who could make a lasting impact this year. By JULIE ASH
Seventeen-year-old Laura Langman is still coming to grips with her inclusion in the New Zealand netball squad.
The talented Waikato midcourter was rewarded for her consistent performances in the National Bank Cup and the national provincial championships with a place in the Silver Ferns squad in September.
"I am still really shocked. I can't believe it," she said.
"At the time I actually thought they had made a mistake."
In the tradition of Bernice Mene, Adine Harper and Anna Scarlett, Langman was recognised by the national selectors with barely a season of top netball under her belt.
"We thought she made an outstanding debut during the National Bank Cup and through the New Zealand under-21 programme, and then at the national provincial championships she just confirmed that she's in that league," Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken said.
"Her fitness levels and her work ethic are right up there and I think she's only going to blossom.
"We're confident she can take this step up."
Langman, of Hamilton, was also part of the Hillcrest High School team who convincingly beating Auckland Girls Grammar to win the national secondary schools title.
She received the Midcourter of the Tournament award.
"Last year was pretty unreal," she said. "It is going to be pretty hard to beat."
Langman, who will start a management degree at Waikato University this year, has already had a taste of what life is like in the Silver Ferns, having attended her first squad camp last month.
"I was scared stiff," she said.
"I couldn't have possibly been any more nervous, but the girls were really nice.
"I have always looked up to players such as Lesley Nicol and Adine Harper. They are all fantastic," said Langman, who has played netball since she was six.
With the restart of the National Bank Cup in April, she is well into her pre-season training.
The final Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic trials are this month, "so that is the next big thing. I'm really looking forward to the start of the season."