Laura Langman's decision to stay with the Northern Mystics turned out to be an easy one because Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic coach Julie Fitzgerald didn't want her.
After a disappointing season with the Mystics, Silver Ferns star Langman had a desire to play in her own backyard again, but was rather astonishingly turned away, with Fitzgerald preferring to stick with those who got the team to the playoffs in her debut season.
Less than three hours after the Mystics' announcement of Langman's retention yesterday, the Magic confirmed they had re-signed Courtney Tairi and Grace Rasmussen. The latter had a sterling season at wing attack, though Tairi lacked the drive and accuracy that Langman would bring at centre.
"We have a big obligation to the girls who did such a good job for us last year," Fitzgerald said.
"We do need to repay that faith, they came to us when we were desperate to build a new team and I think they've done an excellent job for us."
Fitzgerald wasn't prepared to divulge any details of her conversation with Langman.
"Laura and I had a chat," she said.
"I'm not happy to discuss who we've approached or who we've spoken to or anything, not just Laura, but anybody."
But Langman made the story clearer.
Having narrowed her options down to either the Mystics or the Magic, she approached Fitzgerald at the end of the season about the possibility of a move back to the franchise she played with for 11 seasons. Living in Hamilton, working as an accountant and taking on pilates instructing, the 28-year-old was keen to play locally if she could to strike up a better work-life balance.
"I just made some inquiries after they ended their season," Langman said. "Julie was pretty up front. She was very happy with the midcourt she had so she made it clear that there wasn't a need for me. But she said [she was] happy to keep the communication open in years to come."
That means Langman will keep her options open for 2016 and beyond.
For now, there were three clear reasons for staying with the Mystics anyway. One was as she had previously stated, she was keen to play for whoever needed her most. It also gave her more time to strengthen her links with Ferns shooters Maria Tutaia and Cathrine Latu, while a further factor was that after making the adjustment to a new team and learning the ropes, Langman was then excited by her side's two wins to end the season.
"In the end, I think Mystics, although it has its challenges, is probably the best place for my netball to progress," she said, adding it was nice to not have the decision hanging over her head before she flies out to Glasgow next Monday for the Commonwealth Games.
Meanwhile, Tairi and Rasmussen both said it was a very easy decision to come back to the Magic, and Fitzgerald was looking forward to furthering their games.
"I'm really excited to have them back," she said. "I think combinations take time to develop, and those two had never played together before and Courtney hadn't played centre for a long time. So I think those two can only develop and their partnership can only get better."
Rasmussen and Tairi's signatures bring the Magic's roster to seven, with Casey Kopua, Leana de Bruin, Ellen Halpenny, Jo Harten and Jamie-Lee Price all also on the books. Five more players are to be added.
- Waikato Times