AUSSIE NETBALL gains SILVER FERN
In the upcoming ANZ netball championships one of New Zealand’s top netballers will be playing for an Australian team. LORRAINE THOMSON gets wind of the change of territory.
Laura Langman is the vice-captain of New Zealand’s national netball team, the Silver Ferns [and has captained the team on several occasions], but for the upcoming season she will be playing for the New South Wales Swifts.
Laura arrived in Sydney in February and has already been playing pre-season matches on “the other side”. Asked why the switch of countries? She says:
“Last year I watched the ANZ final and I thought it was one of the best netball games I had seen for some time. I put it out there I was looking to play and was fortunate enough to get a response from the Swifts and so it took off from there.”
Playing on the other side has also meant a change in gender of coach. Sydney-based Rob Wright is Laura’s new coach.
“It is no different really [having a male coach]. Rob has an incredible technical mindset and I really like his direct response. have been really enjoying it so far. He has a clear vision of how he would like the team to play and the skills the players need to able to do that style.”
Asked about the difference between playing for New Zealand and for Australia, Laura says: “It is probably a little bit early to judge, but environment wise, it is interesting. The Swift environment is high performance. The training is very high intensity and high execution. With training, we are there for quality, rather than quantity.”
The temperature is also different.
“It was 42 degrees yesterday, but we were playing in an air-conditioned stadium. You need to keep your hydration up to scratch.”
Already Laura has had a taste of playing against a New Zealand team in a pre-season match. “I enjoyed the challenge,” she says.
Playing for an Australian team, she says, is an opportunity for her to put a stake in the ground, to see how much she needs to adjust. For the Swifts she plays wing defense or centre.
For fitness, Laura likes to hit the gym three times a week.
“Outside my training I aim to do short, medium and long runs and we have been doing some cross-training on sand and on hills. I also take Pilates classes once or twice a week.”
For nutrition it is a case of “everything in moderation” and staying away from processed food. “I try to keep everything fresh, but is a challenge over here.”
When not training, Laura spends time finishing off her chartered accountancy programme. She has just got her last module to go. She also takes courses to be a Pilates instructor and spends some time coaching school netball.
Laura is not planning on staying across though. She plans to return to New Zealand in August in preparation for the Silver Fern trials.
She has meantime a 30th birthday coming up on 16 April, although with a game scheduled on that day, the celebrations were brought forward. A surprise 30th party was organized before going to Sydney, by her husband, Adrian Pooley. Although Adrian is not living in Sydney, he does make trips back and forth.
Asked how long she sees herself playing netball, Laura says: “Wow – I don’t know. I haven’t really put much thought to it. I like to stay in the present and so this is probably something I haven’t really thought about.”
Laura’s first international test debut was in 2005 against England. That year she captained the New Zealand Under 21 side to win gold at the World Youth Netball Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When playing for the Silver Ferns at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, the team won gold. And there have been a number of gold and silver medals in subsequent international games.
She joins the Swifts having played 120 matches for the Magic and Mystics and more than 100 tests for the Silver Ferns. Her opening game with the Swifts will be against the Melbourne Vixens at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre on Sunday 3 April.
Last year the NSW Swifts placed second in the ANZ Championship after losing by one goal to the Queensland Firebirds in one of the closest and most exciting grand finals in the competition’s history.
This year Laura will be adding Kiwi finesse to the championship. My pick is she will add just the right amount of disruption to score the winning team trophy.
New Zealand iconic netballer Laura Langman, towers over Australia’s iconic harbour bridge in Sydney. NSW Swifts head coach Rob Wright with Laura
Laura’s dress code changed from black to red for the NSW Swifts training game against QLD Firebirds.