Netball: Silver Ferns legend Laura Langman returns to prepare New Zealand for World Cup defence

One of New Zealand's best ever netballers has returned to the Silver Ferns, but in an unfamiliar role.

World Cup-winning captain Laura Langman has joined the squad for an Auckland camp, as they prepare to defend the title she led them to in 2019.

Langman's back in familiar surroundings, and she's lost none of the charm and bubble that made her a much-loved Silver Fern.

"Oh no, I am very much in the background and just here if you need," she insisted.

Langman's presence has been requested by her old coach, Dame Noeline Taurua. 

"I'm just throwing in some drills and they are experts themselves, so if they like it, keep it, but if not, chuck them out... it's all good." 

Langman and Dame Noeline combined for club and country, highlighted by the 2019 World Cup final win over Australia.

Four years on, Langman, 37, can't believe how much the game has changed. 

"The clip and the speed has increased," she observed. "Just the physicality and the strength of players has lifted up another notch.

Langman is netball royalty, with her feats as a player inspiring the current squad.

"She was definitely an idol, when I was growing up, so sort of surreal that she's standing right that in front of me now," said midcourt Maddy Gordon. 

Laura Langman & teammates celebrate 2019 World Cup victory
Laura Langman & teammates celebrate 2019 World Cup victory. Photo credit: Photosport

"You see her energy everywhere and the slight 'Laus' things she does are starting to come back into our environment, which is lovely," said shooter Maia Wilson. 

Langman will spend more time with the Ferns next month, when she'll host them across the Tasman on the Sunshine Coast.

She won't be with the team in South Africa, but is confident they have what it takes to repeat her team's victory at Liverpool.

"I know their mentality isn't about defending it," she said. "They are all about going over and competeing, and winning it themselves, so they'll be awesome."

With Langman's help, they're certainly in good hands.

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