This week Laura Langman of Ngāti Paoa is to play her last test for the Silver Ferns before taking up a one-year deal with the Sunshine Coast Lightning for the Australian domestic league. The move means Langman won't be able to play for New Zealand next year as any player playing in Australia is ineligible for Silver Ferns selection.
“I have probably kind of kept that in the back of my head,” says Langman, “It is most important to focus on what's ahead because we have got a big challenge.”
Silver Ferns head coach Janine Southby jokingly suggests Langman would be taking a sabbatical.
“I have been very impressed with the work-rate Laura brings and the energy and the real determination to be out there and be her best,” says Southby, “And although she hasn't been in the official leader's role, she has supported Katrina (Katrina Grant) really well in the vice-captain role.”
With no major international tournament next season, Langman will make the timely move to play across the ditch and return to be available for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 World Cup.
“She certainly demands a lot of herself and sets high standards and I know it's going to be tough without her,” says Southby, “I'd like to think when she comes back into this group, this group has all moved on and can stand on their own two feet as well.”
And while the task ahead will be to level the winning scores two-a-piece against Australia after their losses in the first and third test of the Constellation cup to Australia 62-50 in Auckland on Saturday.
Langman admits the fourth test isn't about her, it's about the Silver Ferns as they remain confident to get the job done at hand, their 53-51 win over Australian in Launceston on Wednesday in the second test gives them self-confidence.
Long-time friend and NZ player Maria Tutaia says that Langman's leadership will be sorely missed next season.
“I take my hat off to her,” says Tutaia, “She is going over to Aussie and following her heart and wanting to achieve something that I guess she has never achieved before. I guess Invercargill will be tough for her because she knows that next year won't be a possibility but Laura being Laura she will give it her all.”
The Fouth Test will be played at ILT Stadium Southland, Invercargill.