Commonwealth Games: Netball NZ treatment of Laura Langman blamed for Silver Ferns failure

  • 18/04/2018
Laura Langman
Laura Langman in action for Silver Ferns. Photo credit: Photosport

Former Australian netball captain Liz Ellis has blamed Netball New Zealand's domestic league and treatment of veteran midcourt Laura Langman for the Silver Ferns' poor showing at the Gold Commonwealth Games.

The Ferns returned from the tournament without a medal for the first time, having contested every final - and captured two gold medals - since netball was introduced at Kuala Lumpur 1998.

Netball NZ has announced it will carry out an external review of the campaign, with most fingers of blame pointed at coach Janine Southby.

But in a PlayersVoice feature, Ellis identifies the revamped national league and the non-selection of players now pursuing their careers in the Australian competition.

"It is unbelievable to me that New Zealand missed out on a medal on the Gold Coast and that they almost didn't make the finals," she says.

"But I wasn't exactly shocked, because New Zealand no longer have their best players playing in the best league in the world - week in, week out. There is no doubt that their Commonwealth Games performance suffered as a result.

"I don't want to make the equation too simple. There's a number of reasons for New Zealand's downfall, but I think that's one of them.

"They just lacked the ability to match the intensity of the teams that they lost to on the Gold Coast."

The trans-Tasman netball league folded after 2016, with Australia and New Zealand resorting to their own domestic competitions. Many of the world's top netballers have gravitated towards the Aussie version, and that has helped England and Jamaica make up ground on the Silver Ferns at international level.

"Not only did New Zealand decide to retreat across the ditch to their own domestic competition, but they basically deemed that anyone who played in our competition wasn't able to represent the New Zealand national team," says Ellis.

"So that meant they missed their best player in Laura Langman, who I think has been treated appallingly by their governing body. I think she would have got them a lot closer to a medal.

"I get that it's a commercial decision… but Laura Langman has played 141 tests for the Silver Ferns and had not missed a team match since her debut in 2005.

"I think you can make an exception for a player who has played that many consecutive test matches for New Zealand. You only need a bush lawyer to tell you that."

Ellis points out that every top-five team at the Commonwealth Games has players in Australian Super Netball - except New Zealand.

The format of our national competition will likely come under scrutiny as part of the Netball NZ review.  


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