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It’s the result of her day job as a hairdresser and her nightime and weekend passion for playing netball.The 22-year-old, who lives at Braxton in the Hunter Valley and plays Premier League on the Central Coast and Sydney and association netball in Newcastle, this week has been rewarded for her dedication to the cause by being named in the NSW Swifts Academy fore 2021.“You get used to it, the travel, and I just love my netball,’’ Hawley said.“I’ve been playing since I was five and we used to travel for hours to just play one hour of netball. It’s just what we did and we became used it.’’
Hawley has set herself the goal of making the Academy team and now realises she may have to aim higher.“My goal was to make the Academy and now I’m stoked,’’ she said.“My goal is to improve all the time. Hopefully the hard work might pay off and I might be a Swift one day. That’s the new goal.’’The Swifts Academy is now in its second season and was set up to strengthen the foundations of the club and provide a stream of new talent into the game.Athletes selected for the Academy come from both metro and regional areas and are considered the future of the sport.
Athletes involved in the Academy program in 2021 will train in a professional and high-performance environment and will underpin the players and training partners in the current Swifts squad coached by Briony Akle.
“Pathways have always been one of netball’s greatest assets and are key to ensuring the continued growth of the game and the Swifts as a successful club,” said Academy performance manager and NSW Swifts assistant coach Anita Keelan.“The Academy ensures the Swifts have a continued direct pathway link to local talent, who can learn from the best national and international players we also have at the club. “The Swifts have a very proud history and we feel each of the Academy athletes selected has what it takes to make it at the highest level.’’
2021 QBE Swifts Academy: Alisha Cairns – Eastwood Ryde, Alison Miller – Eastwood Ryde, Amelia Kirgan – Bankstown City, Audrey Little – Manly Warringah, Brooke Paterson – Randwick, Charlotte Raleigh – Armidale District, Charlotte Smith – Sutherland Shire, Chelsea Mann – Manly Warringah, Courtney Castle – Blacktown City, Dakota Thomas – Newcastle,
Elle Bennetts – Northern Suburbs, Emma Smith – Sutherland Shire. Erin Asquith – Newcastle,
Kara Styles – Sutherland Shire, Kristen Kessler – Wyong District, Laura Towell – Sutherland ShireLili Gorman-Brown – Sutherland Shire, Madeline Eaton – Sutherland Shire, Olivia Coleman – Eastwood Ryde, Papi Alaalatoa – Liverpool City, Sophie Fawns – Wagga Wagga, Tarsha Hawley – Newcastle.
Drama for Sydney to Hobart favourite
REVEALED: Rugby teens in sights of the scouts
Wendy Tuck’s big adventure on the high seas
From wheelchair to dreaming of a Super Rugby career
Young players from across NSW who will be courting success for their state and country in the not-to-distant future.Some aren’t far off. Others have a few years to grow and develop.
RUGBY GUNS: Most dangerous players in Shield Shield
Best Swifts players in Super Netball era
Here’s a list of some of the best and brightest netball talent in the state expected to be making a big mark in the game.
Rohweder played her junior netball in her hometown of Lismore before making the move to Sydney for more opportunities.Now with the Penrith District Netball Association, this young mid-courter is coming along in leaps and bounds.A member of the QBE Swifts Academy, the 20-year-old was given a great opportunity to train with the Super Netball side when they relocated to Queensland and were allowed to extend their training squad.The young netball has been identified as a future talent and is in the Australian u21 squad.
You may not have heard the name yet but it is more than likely you will soon.From Wagga, this young shooter like most regional athletes is well versed in spending hours on the road racing to training and games.But her dedications is paying off with the young talent part of the Swifts Academy.She impressed during a trial match for the Swift against the Giants earlier this season where she went up against experienced defender Kristiana Manu’a.Playing Netball NSW Premier League with new franchise South Coast Blaze, 17-year-old Fawns has been a member of numerous state age teams with her preferred position at goal attack.
Little by name but a big, big talent in netball. This schoolgirl from the Northern Beaches of Sydney is the daughter of former Wallaby player Jason Little and is on course to be a big hit in her own sport. A NSW junior, the 16-year-old made the leadership group with the NSW under 17s team.She was also one of the youngest members named in the Swifts Academy and has been gaining experience and strength from playing in the Netball NSW Premier League where she represents the Manly Warringah Sapphires.
This Sydney talent has finally secured her first player contract despite actually getting time on the court in Super Netball over both the 2019 and 2020 netball seasons.The 21-year-old midcourter from Sydney was with the NSW Swifts Super Netball team in their Queensland hub after clubs were allowed to extend their squads due to coronavirus. Since the end of the comp she has signed on with the club for next season.Fraser last year played some minutes into the Swifts Super Netball win and is one of the most versatile and dynamic mid-courters in the state.
A young sharpshooter with a big future ahead of her. Matisse Letherbarrow has recently been named in the Australian u21 squad, showing she is a young Diamond in the making.The young gun has made her way through the NSW pathways system, representing her state in numerous state age teams.A former member of the Netball NSW Waratahs – the team which feeds into the NSW Swifts – she moved across to the Giants in 2020 and made her elite debut while training with them in Queensland at the tender age of 18.
Another impressive shooter who, like Letherbarrow, is a member of the Australian u21 squad and destined for big things in the game.Dwyer, 18, also benefited from teams being allowed to bring extra players into their squads during the Super Netball season and made her debut in the top domestic competition in the world after switching from the Swifts to the Giants.The teenager has learned her craft in state teams from an early age and also played for the Swifts feeder team, the Netball NSW Waratahs. Last season she was named the Australian Netball League Grand Final MVP.
The talented daughter of former Australian centre and multiple world champion Carissa Tombs (nee Dalwood) and former Wallaby Richard Tombs.Tombs, 18, has excelled in state teams over the years and played with the Canberra Giants, the then feeder team to Giants Netball. Now she is part of the Giants Academy and is seen as a star in the making – in the same position as her mother in the midcourt.Tombs was recently named in the 2020 Australian u21 squad and plays Premier League for the Manly Warringah Sapphires.
Known for her height and gritty defence, Coleman is also a member of the Australian u21 netball quad.Coleman has blossomed in the NSW Swifts environment and took the court for a number of pre-season games under the guidance of former Swifts player turned coach Briony Akle.Coleman was sidelined early as a talent by Netball NSW pathway and has played in numerous state teams along with the Premier League for ERNA Hawks.Coleman is in the perfect environment to learn more about her crafty with Swifts defenders Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner seen as two of the best in the game.
Inner Western Suburbs
If she looks a little familiar there is a reason why.Iongi is the niece of one of the toughest netballers ever to play for Australia in Mo’onia Gerrard and her Wallaby husband Mark Gerrard.A talented and athletic netballer is still in her teens and seen a bright talent for the future.A tough defender and was bought through the Swifts’ pathway with the Netball NSW Waratahs and played in last year’s Australian Netball League (feeder competition to Super Netball) season decider.She switched to the Giants camp this season as a training partner.
AMY AND NATALIE SLIGAR
Camden & District
Netball’s sister act.These talented twins, a midcourter and shooter, are expected to be a big hit on an off the court in the future.Amy and Natalie have progressed through the NSW Netball pathway system side-by-side and have also just been named together in the Australian 21 and under squad.The twins are also members of the Giants Academy and seen as having a big future in the game.
This young midcourter has talent and energy to burn.Kessler was the Netball NSW Premier League MVP in 2016.Growing up on the Central Coast, she played alongside NSW Swifts talent Lauren Moore.She has won a Premier League title with Heart and has attracted enough attention to grab a covered spot in the NSW Swifts Academy.
All true, as it happens. But there is more. Frankly, she is exhausted. Men hearing this will automatically assume that here is further proof that women don’t have what it takes to run a major Australian sport and their argument and logic will ring true because it is, after all, a male world in which we live and operate. But they will be wrong. It’s not the job that wore her down but rather the constant battle as a woman of taking on a mindset so entrenched that it is entirely taken for granted.
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Did she encounter problems at Swimming Australia because she was a woman? “That’s difficult to answer,” Russell replies. “The short answer is that when you are ‘the other’ – there are very few female coaches, very few female administrators – you are up against a traditionally male level of thinking. It’s not overt. It’s covert. It is a hard slog.”The federated system of government in Australian swimming somehow exacerbated the differences. Her style of leadership is collaborative, supportive, challenging. Beating her chest and going to war wasn’t her thing. But a federated model also made infighting almost inevitable.
“No-one has adjusted to a different style of leadership and the truth is that people don’t like being told what to do by a woman.”
A LONELY PLACE FOR WOMEN
Raelene Castle, Rugby Australia’s former boss, could certainly attest to that. She was one of five female chief executives of major sports to quit this year. Now there are only three remaining: Marne Fechner, CEO of Netball Australia but from next year AusCycling, Kitty Chiller of Gymnastics Australia and Basketball Australia’s Jerril Rechter.“If we are serious about diversity and inclusiveness in sport then the question has to be asked: Why are there so few female leaders?” Russell asked. “And why are the women in these roles not there for any duration?”For Australia’s female sporting bosses it all came to a head when they were shut-out of a television program on the future of Australian sport. Somewhat astonishingly, the culprit was that bastion of radical feminism, the ABC. As the coronavirus pandemic crisis bit deeper in June, the Q+A program got together a panel of administrators along with some athletes and a prominent journalist to discuss where sport itself was being driven. But while there was certainly a female component to the program, none of the administrators on the panel were female.“What was blatantly obvious to the women leading sports in this country was the glaring omission of a female leader talking about the future of sport,” said Russell, who was caught up in a texting frenzy from other female CEO’s at the time. “And people will say, ‘Get over it, it’s not important’ but, like high performance, creating the future you want is the journey of 1000 steps. And that is just one step. But it’s an easy step. Lots of this stuff is very easy but we have to be conscious to it.
COVID TIMES CAN HELP CHANGE
“We have been given an invitation by COVID to reimagine our future. I hope people respond to the challenge because we have never needed it more.” Russell is being spoken about as a contender for the Australian Sports Commission job and certainly she would have some vivid insights into problems that transcend swimming. Her experience with the Shayna Jack case has highlighted that sports such as the AFL and the NRL have different agreements with Sport Integrity Australia than do most of the Olympic sport. The Jack case also demonstrated that as far as the public and media are concerned, supposed drug cheats are painted as the worst offenders in Australian sport.“We have more patience with sportspeople who are charged with sexual assault or domestic violence than we do with an athlete charged with taking performance-enhancing drugs,” she said. “I think we all feel so passionately about anti-doping that we let the emotion rule the logic.” Yet the views of Australians are definitely changing in regard to Jack following the halving of her sentence to a two-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week. And she may very well come to be viewed in a far more sympathetic light following the release of the CAS judgment on Tuesday, with arbitrator Alan Sullivan QC describing Jack as the most impressive witness he had ever seen in 40 years of practice.What Sullivan liked about her is what Russell also found so appealing, that she never attempted to use the “dog ate my homework” defence. She could provide no explanation for how she came to have a banned substance, ligandrol, in her system but she never for a moment blamed anyone else.Jack’s case may well come to be seen as the catalyst for amendments in the anti-doping legislation.And in a way, Russell’s time at Swimming Australia may well be seen in much the same light – as an agent of change.
A week after Netball Australia lost CEO Marne Fechner to cycling, Symington announced on Friday he was standing down for family reasons.“My wife and I have recently welcomed twin girls into our family, so it’s time I take a step back and spend this special time with my wife and four beautiful daughters,” he said.“Being a part of Suncorp Super Netball for the past three years is something I’m immensely proud of.“I look forward to watching the Suncorp Super Netball action with my daughters for years to come.”
Symington will leave his job on December 10. Before his departure he will continue to negotiate a broadcast deal for the competition.Super Netball League commission chair Marina Go said: “Chris has worked tirelessly during his time in netball to ensure that Suncorp Super Netball remained the world’s premier netball competition, and most recently leading the league to be the first major sporting code to complete a full season following the COVID break.“We thank him for his incredible contribution to the league and netball as a whole over the past three years and wish him, Kylie and the girls all the best during this exciting time in their life.”
Anderson, a former Sydney Swifts assistant coach and assistant to ex national coach Lisa Alexander – who was overlooked for the Firebirds role in favour of the 46-year-old – said she was humbled to win the post and excited to lead the Super Netball club.“I knew there would be some big-name coaches going for (the position) and it’s just humbling to get offered any position like this,” Anderson said.“These sort of roles don’t come around often, so I’m just super grateful to be given the opportunity.”The Firebirds made enormous gains this season to finish just outside the finals and have only strengthened their squad for next year as Diamonds Gretel Bueta and Kim Ravaillion return from maternity leave to bolster the squad.Anderson, who won 20 Diamonds caps as a player, has strong relationships with several of the Firebirds players from her time as an Australian assistant and hopes to be able to build a quick and strong rapport with her new team.“I’ve had a lot of dealings with Gretel (Bueta) and Gabi (Simpson) over the years and also Kim Jenner in the last 12 or so months, so it’s really good to be familiar with a lot of them before coming in,” she said.“I was really impressed, especially with the second half of the season. They lost a few in the first half and came home so strong in the second half of the season and that just shows such character from such young players.”Super Netball commentator and former Diamond Cath Cox said the Firebirds had made an “exceptional move”.“It’s always a gutsy thing to take on a coach that hasn’t had experience at a national league level before and is young,” Cox said.“She’s had plenty of experience with the Diamonds but it is still a very bold move and a very smart one, she’s going to be a great asset for them.“The Firebirds have had coaches throughout the years that they’ve held on to, they really like to look after their own and keep them in the system and she’s a perfect one to be able to do that and start that new generation.”Anderson, who will move her young family, including six-year-old twins Thomas and Olivia to Queensland for the job, takes over from Roselee Jencke who led the club to three premierships in her 11-year tenure.“She’s big shoes to follow, that’s for sure, I’ll be very different to Rose in my approach – not in a good or a bad way, just different – and hopefully just that fresh outlook will be good for the players as well.”
Fechner will leave her NA post at the end of the year to become inaugural CEO of AusCycling, the new national organisation representing all cycling disciplines.“Australian cycling has a proud tradition, but has also taken brave and future-facing steps to streamline its governance,” Fechner said.“I’m honoured to lead a team that will drive evolutionary change for this sport.”AusCycling chairman Duncan Murray said Fechner – who was NA boss for three and a half years – was an “ideal leader” for Australia’s biggest participation sport.“During her tenure at Netball Australia, Marne more than doubled revenue, grew the professional league, and led substantial organisational redesign and cultural change,” Murray said.“In Marne, we have found a world-class operator to unlock cycling’s potential. She will be fabulous, and we are very excited.”
Fechner was proud of her NA achievements, which included the recent commitment to increase the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes at netball’s elite levels.“Our work in partnership with netball’s member organisations, Suncorp Super Netball clubs, our amazing athletes and passionate broadcasters and sponsors is at the core of what we do,” she said.“Netball’s heartbeat lives in the thousands of volunteers and participants in communities around the country and I’ve been privileged to meet and work alongside so many wonderful people through a shared passion for the sport.”Fechner’s interim replacement at NA will be Ron Steiner, who has previously had leadership roles in cricket and rugby union.Steiner does not want the CEO role long-term, with NA to next year start searching for a permanent replacement for Fechner.
Mid-courter Browne announced in early September that her career was over after re-injuring her right knee while playing for Collingwood in the Super Netball competition.“Season 2020 was always set to be my last and I have cherished every minute I have been able to be out there on court,” Browne said in a statement released by Collingwood.“It is sad to miss out on the best, which is competing at the elite level, but in making this decision I am looking to avoid the worst and take control of my life beyond netball.”But 32-year-old Browne has changed her mind to “embrace” the “challenge” of playing abroad.
“I am absolutely delighted to be coming to the UK to play for Leeds Rhinos,” Browne told the club’s website.“It was a dream to play netball abroad and thanks to Leeds this dream gets to become reality.“I’m ready to step outside my comfort zone of playing in Australia and inject my 15 years of elite netball knowledge into UK netball.“The set-up at Leeds is really impressive and with (coach) Dan Ryan in charge, I’m not surprised with the stellar list of players he’s already recruited. “I couldn’t help but be drawn into the shared vision emerging in Leeds, and the opportunity to assist in building a program from the ground up is an honour I don’t take lightly. “I love a challenge and am looking forward to embracing and growing with them as well as helping my team navigate through whatever comes our way.“Leeds already has a rich sporting culture and it’s exciting to make history being one of the inaugural players putting the Rhinos on the map for netball in the UK. “I look forward to developing new connections and relationships in another country and the chance to call it home. I can’t wait to move over and get started.”
Browne made 61 appearances for the Diamonds, retiring from international netball in July 2018.She will move to the UK in January, with the English Superleague season starting in February.Leeds coach Ryan said: “Madi is one of the most skilful, creative and admired players in our sport, and we are so proud and humbled to have her as part of the inaugural Leeds Rhinos team.“She’s so well respected worldwide not only for her incredible on court talents and long list of achievements, but the resilience and determination she has shown to defy the odds throughout her career. “She is a legend of the sport and our athletes are so fortunate to have the opportunity to play and train alongside an athlete and person of her class and calibre.”
Since the last edition of the NS SCOREBOARD, we’ve seen three competitions decided.
South Africa’s Telkom Netball League came to its conclusion with Gauteng Jaguars incredibly taking out their fourth straight title. They were the dominant team throughout the compressed 2 week tournament and comfortably defeated rivals Free State Crinums in the final.
In New Zealand, the Cadbury Series was contested between four kiwi teams; the Silver Ferns, the NZ A side, the NZ U21s and the NZ Men. Through the rounds, it was clear that the Men’s team and the Ferns were the dominant sides, and they duly met in the final. The men’s team had won quite easily when they met on the Thursday in round 2, but the final was a very different story. The Silver Ferns were on right from the opening whistle. They successfully nullified the men by playing in a controlled fashion, leaving little opportunity for their height and athleticism to take over. It was the first time the Ferns had beaten the men in four clashes over the two years of this competition.
After taking out that series, the Silver Ferns then went on to play in a 3 test series against the England Roses for the Taini Jamison Trophy. This was the first international netball series since Covid-19 put a halt to things early in the year. New Zealand went on to win the series 3-0, but that really doesn’t tell the whole story. The England side, missing all of their Super Netball stars, was more than competitive and looked to have the kiwis under great pressure at times during the series. Most particularly in game two, the Roses put up a great show, winning the second quarter to take the half time lead.
In the end though, the kiwis just had too much class. But the Roses would have gained valuable experience from this tour. George Fisher had a good series at goal shooter, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis impressed when given the opportunity at goal attack, Fran Williams and Razia Quashie were strong in defence and Laura Malcolm went well in the unfamiliar role of wing attack. All in all, there is a lot to look forward to from this team.
For New Zealand, Maia Wilson goes from strength to strength as a goal shooter, and her combination with captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio is going to cause trouble for opposition teams for years to come. In defence, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kelly Jury took it in turns to shine at goal keeper while Jane Watson has settled into her role at goal defence. The midcourt positions are still up for grabs it seems.
Netball New Zealand and England Netball are to be congratulated for getting this series off the ground and giving fans around the world some top class international netball to watch.
2020 TAINI JAMISON TROPHY – New Zealand v England
Ameliaranne Ekenasio (C)
Serena Guthrie (C)
Laura Malcolm (C)
New Zealand 54 (14, 9, 16, 15) def England 47 (12, 13, 8, 14)
Wilson 34/39 (87%)
Ekenasio 24/26 (92%)
Falkner 0/1 (0%)
Team Total: 58/66 (88%)
Assists 53 (Crampton 21)
Gains 15 (Fitzpatrick 7)
Fisher 18/22 (82%)
Cardwell 15/17 (88%)
Corbin 7/9 (78%)
Drakeford-Lewis 5/5 (100%)
Team Total: 45/53 (85%)
Assists 42 (Drakeford-Lewis 12)
Gains 11 (Williams 6)
Player of the Match: Sulu Fitzpatrick (NZ)
New Zealand 54 (14, 9, 16, 15) def England 47 (12, 13, 8, 14)
Wilson 38/41 (93%)
Ekenasio 16/18 (89%)
Team Total: 54/59 (92%)
Assists 50 (Kersten 14)
Gains 14 (Fitzpatrick 5)
Cardwell 19/21 (90%)
Fisher 17/17 (100%)
Drakeford-Lewis 11/14 (79%)
Corbin 0/1 (0%)
Team Total: 47/53 (89%)
Assists 43 (Malcolm 18)
Gains 7 (Quashie 4)
Player of the Match: Laura Malcolm (Eng)
New Zealand 62 (12, 14, 19, 17) def England 47 (10, 9, 16, 12)
Wilson 44/47 (94%)
Ekenasio 17/18 (94%)
Falkner 1/2 (50%)
Team Total: 62/67 (93%)
Assists 61 (Kersten 27)
Gains 17 (Jury 7)
Fisher 26/28 (93%)
Cardwell 14/17 (82%)
Drakeford-Lewis 7/8 (88%)
Team Total: 47/53 (89%)
Assists 42 (Malcolm 20)
Gains 14 (Quashie 6)
Player of the Match: Maia Wilson (NZ)
New Zealand won series 3-0
Series shooting stats:
Wilson 116/127 (91%)
Ekenasio 57/62 (92%)
Falkner 1/3 (33%)
Team Total: 174/192 (91%)
Fisher 61/67 (91%)
Cardwell 48/55 (87%)
Drakeford-Lewis 23/27 (85%)
Corbin 7/10 (70%)
Team Total: 139/159 (87%)
CADBURY NETBALL SERIES
NZ Men 73 def NZ U21s 44
NZ Silver Ferns 59 def NZ A 44
NZ A 57 def NZ U21s 53
NZ Men 60 def NZ Silver Ferns 47
NZ Men 64 def NZ A 37
NZ Silver Ferns 81 def NZ U21s 33
NZ A 68 def NZ U21s 47
NZ Silver Ferns 55 (16, 9, 17, 13) def NZ Men 52 (10, 12, 17, 13)
Wilson 27/30 (90%)
Ekenasio 21/25 (84%)
Selby-Rickit 7/14 (50%)
Team Total: 55/69 (80%)
Assists 51 (Ekenasio 19)
Gains 10 (Watson 3)
Levi 36/39 (92%)
Jefferies 8/10 (80%)
Powell 8/10 (80%)
Team Total: 52/59 (88%)
Assists 48 (Patu, Tangira 13)
Gains 9 (Schuster 4)
MVP: Maia Wilson (Silver Ferns)
NZ Silver Ferns won Cadbury Series
TELKOM NETBALL LEAGUE
1 . Gauteng Jaguars . 19 pts
2 . Free State Crinums . 12 pts
3 . Golden Fireballs . 12 pts
4 . Southern Stings . 9 pts
5 . North West Flames . 8 pts
6 . Kingdom Stars . 0 pts
1 . Mpumalanga Sunbirds . 14 pts
2 . Western Cape Tornados . 14 pts
3 . Eastern Cape Aloes . 12 pts
4 . Kingdom Queens . 10 pts
5 . Northern Cape Diamonds . 6 pts
6 . Limpopo Baobabs . 4 pts
Western Cape Tornados 44 def Mpumalanga Sunbirds 25
Eastern Cape Aloes 35 def Kingdom Queens 31
Golden Fireballs 39 def Southern Stings 35
Gauteng Jaguars 38 def Free State Crinums 26
Player of the Final: Jenny van Wyk (Jaguars)
Player of the Tournament: Izette Griesel (Jaguars)
Before I interviewed Laura Langman I made a list of her strengths. Athletic – yes; powerful and skilful – definitely; GOAT centre – in my opinion; can turn a game, quirky sense of humour – tick and tick; humble and unassuming. Given the latter, when I asked Langman for her opinion, it was no surprise that I got a very different answer.
She said, “Man, that’s a hard one,” and paused, genuinely struggling to find something. Finally she took a deep breath, and listed just one thing. “I think I’ve never been afraid to take a risk.”
And while it might not appear that way, given her traditional introduction to netball and an unflashy approach to life, there is far more to Langman than her trademark long socks would suggest. While an outstanding career has been built on her brilliance on court and genuine affability, it’s the less-trodden path that has defined her.
Born a farm girl in the Waikato region, Langman learned the value of hard work very early on. She was expected to pull her weight on the property, honing her muscles while helping with the dairy and sheep herd.
She was talent spotted at a young age, and signed with the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in 2003, while still a fresh-faced high schooler. It was the start of a long term partnership with coach Noeline Taurua, who became one of the most influential people in Langman’s career.
At a time when the Silver Ferns were laden with midcourt talent, Langman was good enough to force her way into the mix. Aged just 18, she made her debut against England, and was one of the youngest ever captains of her country’s Under 21 team, taking out the Netball World Youth Cup title later that year.
The Magic reigned as a powerhouse during Langman’s time with them. They picked off three domestic titles and became the only New Zealand team to win the coveted trans-Tasman ANZ Premiership title in 2012.
After 11 years as mentor and student, the partnership between Langman and Taurua was broken, when the latter took a break from netball. Langman says she ‘emotionally checked out’ as a result, and moved to the Northern Mystics for the next three seasons.
Slightly restless, and wondering whether to retire or immerse herself in the life of a professional athlete, Langman took a calculated risk and crossed the Tasman.
“It was always on the list,” she said. “I was like, ‘Man, I wonder what it would be like to play in an Australian team.’
“So I put my feelers out, never expecting a team to be interested. When I got picked up by the Swifts, that was a real dream come true. I couldn’t sign my contract fast enough, I didn’t want them to change their mind.
“2016, that was such a cool year. Hard, but the growth of me as a person and a player was huge.”
Langman was thrust into the intensity of a full time netball environment, with training sessions including the gym, skills, fitness and court work. Despite the enormous rivalry between Australian and New Zealand netballers, former opponents became teammates, and then became friends.
She explained, “I learned so much in that year about myself. I learned so much as a player, being under Kimmy G’s (Greens) leadership will always be a highlight of my career. Being able to play alongside her was just amazing.
“Also too, that year was the biggest year I had in development of my leadership, in terms of knowing what it feels like. You forget what it feels like to be a rookie, I reckon, when you’ve been around a wee while.
“So that was a unique opportunity. I was stepping into a team where I was the newbie, and everyone was very established. I learned a lot from that, in terms of knowing what it feels like when you’re not sure what you can contribute.
“And nothing’s worse than having players in the team that don’t want to contribute. So that was a real big challenge that I had to overcome pretty early on.”
Langman had gained an exemption from Netball New Zealand to play overseas, and soon stamped herself as a favourite with Australian fans. They thrilled to her enormous prowess on court, and her down to earth ways off it. Teammates obviously felt the same way, and despite being new to the group, Langman was elected as vice-captain of the Swifts.
While she would have happily stayed in Sydney, another opportunity came knocking. Noeline Taurua was signed as the inaugural coach of the Sunshine Coast Lightning, and Langman jumped at the chance to work with her former mentor again.
However, Netball New Zealand ruled that if she continued to play overseas, Langman would no longer be eligible for the national team. Late in 2016, and for the first time in 12 years, the Silver Ferns took to the court without their star centre. It not only deprived them of her ability and leadership, but broke her string of 151 consecutive international games, a record that in all likelihood will never be repeated.
It came at a time when Langman was at the peak of her powers, and if she was heartbroken, it didn’t show on court. It’s hard to forget her flight through the court, ponytail flowing, with the ball on a string. Or her ability to catch a ball, pivot and throw, all whilst in mid-air; or plucking an intercept on the edge of the circle, without toppling offside.
When publicly asked about her stand down, Langman was classy but silent; few people would”ve known just how much it cost her.
There was just one hint. Immediately after winning the 2017 Suncorp Super Netball grand final, Langman was interviewed courtside about her decision to play for the Lightning, and her subsequent omission from the Silver Ferns. As her team and the crowd erupted, Langman said with a few tears and a slightly wobbly voice, “I have no regrets. I have loved every challenge, every moment, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Fans, who’d previously admired the star for her talents, fell in love with her. Whilst they couldn’t always imagine life as an elite athlete, they could relate to a person who knew about disappointment and heartbreak, and fought on despite it.
It was a side of Langman that many hadn’t seen before, but she was comfortable with showing some emotion. She said, “I think that it’s okay to show a little bit of vulnerability. In terms of when you are in a team sport you feel like you have to leave your baggage at the door. But the last few teams I’ve been in, it’s been really cool to see that the entire person is embraced and that’s okay.”
And with a laugh, she added, “There’s been lots of tears. I’m sorry about that!”
Being cut from the Silver Ferns almost pushed Langman into retirement. She stepped away from the elite court in 2018, heading to Canada for a snowboarding holiday, playing club netball, and running some long distance events just for fun.
However, 2017 and 2108 proved disastrous for the Ferns. They lost two games to England, were white-washed by an inexperienced Australian side, and achieved their worst ever result at the Commonwealth Games, exiting without a medal.
Change was needed. Taurua was appointed to coach the national team, and with an exemption in place, she coaxed Langman back onto the court both for the Lightning and to captain the Silver Ferns.
After almost 18 months away from the sport, Langman wasn’t sure if her skills would still be up to the mark. She said, “When I came back in 2019, that was a big moment in time. I had to be okay in terms of what I had, and I had to be content with that.
“I didn’t really have the time to dwell on what I didn’t have. So that was a big turning point. That was when I really bought into, ‘I’m going to contribute as much as I can, as long as I can, and I’m okay if someone needs to take over from me.’
“Because, as an athlete you want to be the best that you can be, and you always want to be out there, that sometimes you get feelings when you get taken off. But I knew my role was going to be different, and I did as much as I could for as long as I could, and I was prepared to take on any role that the team needed.”
While Lightning was convincingly beaten by the Swifts in the 2019 grand final, Langman led the Silver Ferns to a remarkable World Cup Victory a few months beforehand. After 163 matches, she promptly announced her international retirement, then played one more season with the Lightning, before breaking netball fans’ hearts for good.
She said, “You always want to play forever. I’ve been lucky to be in teams that are amazing, and no day ever beats game day.
“To be honest, in 2017, I thought I was done.
“So these last two years have been a gift. I came into the year, thinking, ‘This is it.’ The intention was that I’d retire. I flirted with the idea of playing in 2021, and then I thought, ‘Come on, Lauz, this is just a bit cheeky.’
“The decision feels good. Your heart always takes a wee while to catch up with your head. I’m lucky, I’ve got my original knees and my body kind of does what it’s told, so I can play other codes and do some other activities. I’m doing okay.”
Having grown up on a netball court, Langman has learned a lot about herself and about life. She said, “The list is a mile long.
“I’ve learned that many hands make light work, to know what your role is, but adapt it to what you have to offer. I’ve really learned I know what I’ve got, and what I definitely don’t have, which I think was huge in these two last years. I’m okay with that.
“I’ve also enjoyed bringing a bit of banter. I think I’ve always felt like I’ve been okay at enjoying the moment. And of course, I’ve never been afraid to take a risk.”
That’s precisely what Langman will be doing as she moves into the next phase of her life. She’s still not quite sure what it will hold, but has earmarked AFL as a possibility. “I feel like that’s the next transition that netball players do. I’ve got some great workmates who play a lot, so I might have a go and that’s exciting. I feel like grass is going to be a lot nicer on the knees than wooden sprung floors, so we’ll see how it goes.”
For the time being, Langman is still in what she describes as, “a strange place.”
“The lack of structure is probably the biggest hurdle I will have to get over, and it will take time to adjust. That’s all part of the process of moving on to different adventures, and I was probably lucky that I had a little taste of it in 2018 to know what to expect.
“I had a day like that yesterday. You could not pay me to make a decision, I was so indecisive. Then this morning before I went to work I wanted to go to Pilates, Crossfit, and go for a run. I had to sit back and laugh at myself.”
Langman has an encyclopaedia’s worth of awards, victories and leadership roles, including four domestic titles, four World Cups and three Commonwealth Games, but describes the people she’s met along the way as what she’ll miss the most.
“I’ve had so many special people make an impact, whether it’s been support staff, an opponent, or a teammate. You take those really special little memories, and keep them with you forever. I’m so grateful that I was looked after right from day one when I was still in high school, right through to today, the people that I’ve been able to be around. So in many ways my career is all a credit to them.”
It’s typical of Langman’s unassuming nature that she credits others for her own success. But those who’ve admired her sheer genius on court, and her warmth away from it, have a different narrative. For them she is, quite simply, the greatest.
Australian Netball Players’ Association CEO Kathryn Harby-Williams said a player survey indicated 60 per cent were not in favour of retaining the Super Shot, and that the majority of Super Netballers wanted a smaller zone to make it harder to sink a two-point goal.“It was the view that the value of the two-point shot wasn’t commensurate with the distance from the post where it currently is, and that it should be a more difficult shot,” Harby-Williams said.“We put forward those views but unfortunately they didn’t land,” .It’s understood that when the Super Shot zone was introduced this year, shooters were both shocked and happy because some parts of the two-point zone were regarded as a natural distance for them. Harby-Williams said the Super Shot zone would again be assessed at the end of the 2021 season before a decision on whether it would be retained in 2022 would be made.“We are of the understanding that it was an unusual year and the majority of the players do understand that you cannot gather all the data required potentially to make an educated and informed decision,” she said.“So we have asked if it goes forward to ensure the commercial information, the fans’ views and the input from all the stakeholders is deeply considered following another season of it.”Brought in on the eve of this season, the Super Shot rule, which awards two points for goals shot from the Super Shot zone in the final five minutes of quarters, earned severe criticism. Players were angry they hadn’t been consulted, and there were suggestions the bonus for long-range shooters contributed to Australian captain Caitlin Bassett getting so little court time for the Giants that she quit Super Netball to play in New Zealand. Her Giants teammate, Jo Harten, led the league in super shots made, nailing 78 from 125 attempts during the season. But Super Netball CEO Chris Symington said he wanted to see the “evolution” of the rule next season and data showed it had helped the competition and even fans stay “engaged”. “We saw on numerous occasions this season how the Suncorp Super Shot … added another element of excitement to our game. What also became clear is that it could be used by teams as little or as much as they liked to suit their style of play,” he said.“With a full pre-season ahead and the opportunity to practise and prepare over a longer period of time, it will be fascinating to see how the players and teams adapt their game plans to suit these rules heading into next year.
“Contrary to some media commentary, we attribute this season’s increase in viewership to a range of factors, including the fact we were the first elite female sport to run a full competition after the outbreak of COVID-19. While the Suncorp Super Shot is an important innovation, it was one of many reasons for the success of the 2020 season.”Rolling substitutions, also introduced this season, will continue in 2021, but discussions regarding extended squad lists are ongoing, with a decision expected prior to the end of the current contracting window. The Super Netball season finished last Sunday with a grand final win by the Vixens.