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.

New Zealand Fitness - - FRONT PAGE -

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

Lang­man [cen­tre].

Laura’s dress code changed from black to red for the NSW Swifts train­ing game against QLD Fire­birds.

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