Double Centurion Langman Meant Business From Day One

via Suncorp Super Netball

Noeline Taurua’s first sighting of Laura Langman was the only time the New Zealand netball great had been cast as a fill-in.

It was 2003, and Taurua needed extra players at training to help sharpen her Waikato -Bay of Plenty Magic outfit.

The sight of Langman, then 16, slipping out of her Hillcrest High School uniform and into training gear didn’t scream ‘look at me’. What she did next caused Taurua’s jaw to drop.

Fill-ins are traditionally little more than training cones around which the senior players manoeuvre. But Langman didn’t care much for reputations, and handed a lesson to Jenny-May Clarkson who was then a midcourter capped 28 times for the Silver Ferns.

“Usually in that situation, when a young one comes in, they’re quite meek and mild,” Taurua recalled.

“But Laura never gave an inch. She rode Jenny-May really hard. She wasn’t there to fill in, she was there to do a job.

“We picked her up on the contract the following year.”

And so began an enduring and wildly successful relationship between the pair that will pocket another milestone on Saturday when Sunshine Coast Lightning star Langman plays her 200th top-level game against the Melbourne Vixens.

They have celebrated achievements together at domestic and international level.

After making such an explosive impact, Langman went on with the job, featuring in national titles for the Magic in 2005 and 2006. She added a trans-Tasman championship under Taurua to her resume in 2012.

They went in separate ways for a period, Langman with the Mystics and NSW Swifts, and Taurua with the Southern Steel.

In 2017 they were back in partnership when the Lightning won the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball title.

“We’ve been together a long time. We know all each other’s good and bad points,” Taurua said.

What sets Langman apart, according to her coach, is her work ethic.

Even at 33, the champion midcourter still has an appetite to learn and improve. Her performances over the first five rounds have been as good as any in her career, and still the Silver Ferns captain seeks more.

“She has the openness to feedback and the drive to follow through and get better,” Taurua said.

Langman’s playing career has been a hot topic after being ineligible for New Zealand selection while playing in Australia in 2017, and taking an extended break last year.

Taurua believes there is much more to come. Following her 2018 sabbatical, the qualified accountant has returned refreshed, and armed with a balanced approach that could extend her career beyond the Netball World Cup and 2019 season.

“When she came back from her break, I noticed she’d changed,” Taurua said.

“Netball’s still number one. But there’s a recognition there that there are other things and it’s given her a new lease of life.

“It’s not so much about quantity for her now. It’s quality.

“She looks after her body now instead of thrashing it and it could give her another two or three years.”

Sunshine Coast Lightning will face off against Melbourne Vixens on Saturday 1 June, from 3pm. Then stick around to support Lightning’s ANL affiliate Territory Storm when they take to the court from 5:45pm.