Laura Langman hopes Sunshine Coast Lightning can stand the test of time
On Saturday, Laura Langman will take the court for her fourth different team in five years.
That's when the Sunshine Coast Lightning begin their Suncorp Super Netball campaign, against no less of an opponent than the Queensland Firebirds, the winners of the last two ANZ Championships.
But what makes this team different from the others she's had in recent times - the New South Wales Swifts, the Northern Mystics, and the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic - is that it is brand new.
Backed by the Melbourne Storm rugby league club, the Lightning have joined the Collingwood Magpies and the Sydney-based Giants, who are both backed by AFL clubs, and combined with the five existing Australian ANZ Championship teams to form this new competition across the Tasman.
And for Langman, the chance to be part of something from the very beginning was a major attraction.
"It's quite special, I think. Not many players can say they were involved in a campaign right from its inauguration.
"Although it's been a lot of work, and a lot of work for our organisation as a whole, on and off the court, it's been quite a momentous occasion, to know that we're the first playing 10 and that we've had a real input into what the club stands for and into building a culture that will hopefully stand the test of time and be there in 20 years."
At the Lightning, Langman has been reunited with coach Noeline Taurua, who selected her for the Magic as a schoolgirl (alongside Casey Kopua) in 2003, and coached her for most of the decade that followed.
"I've always been a massive fan of her coaching style, and she's definitely always brought the best out of me as a player and a person, and she's still taking me to school, that's for sure," said Langman.
"I think the girls have appreciated her approach to the game and found it really refreshing, so we're looking forward to putting our product out there and seeing how it goes in what looks like a really strong competition over here."
This year will be Langman's second in a row in Australia, following last year's campaign with the Swifts, who finished runners-up to the Firebirds in a dramatic grand final.
She said she was extremely fortunate to have spent time with the Swifts, but that the Lightning would present a whole new challenge.
"If I look over my career, [the Swifts are] definitely one of the best teams I've been involved with, and I think why it was so great, is that it gave me the opportunity to just go in there and be a player. I was the one that was the debutant and I was learning the ropes.
"What was so fantastic about that team was that everyone knew their role, and in terms of playing years, that team was quite mature, and you can see that in the lineups that Collingwood and the Giants have on paper. That was one thing I noticed when we formed as a team at Lightning, that we need to play beyond our years, so to speak. I've really relished the challenge of being able to be whatever the team needs whenever it needs it."
As has been well documented, Langman's decision to play in Australia means she is unavailable for the Silver Ferns this year.
Last year with the Swifts she was given a waiver, but fearful of losing players to Australia's new competition, Netball New Zealand made no such concessions this time around.
The Ferns' first games without Langman since 2004 took place a few weeks ago in the Quad Series in South Africa and England, and she made sure to keep an eye on them, because, as she puts it: "Once a Fern, always a Fern."
But while Langman was impressed by how the Ferns performed, she admitted it was tough watching while knowing she wouldn't be joining them at any stage this year.
"When you play in competitions like Suncorp Super Netball or the ANZ Champs, the ultimate is to go on and represent your country. I'm feeling in good shape and getting numbers I haven't had before, so it's hard sometimes to think, shivers, I don't quite have that same incentive at the end of the year.
"But in saying that I think I've certainly made the right decision in terms of me and my netball, and I think the challenge that the Lightning is providing me is massive and is perfect for me right now."