Fern Laura Langman closes in on her 100th test

NUMBER ONE: Laura Langman has topped a list of netball players compiled by experts for the Guardian newspaper in the UK.
NUMBER ONE: Laura Langman has topped a list of netball players compiled by experts for the Guardian newspaper in the UK.

Laura Langman knows exactly how many days there are between now and the start of the Silver Ferns' Commonwealth Games title defence on July 25.

But ask the stand-in New Zealand captain to look a week ahead and she turns you down flat.

The 27-year-old midcourter was her usual industrious self as the Silver Ferns kicked off their two-test tour of the United Kingdom with a 72-18 win over Scotland in an exhibition match in Glasgow yesterday.

The teams meet again tomorrow morning, before the tour starts for real with test matches in London against Jamaica (Saturday) and England next Tuesday. The England game has the potential to be a special one for Langman, who's played 98 consecutive tests for New Zealand since her debut in 2005.

With regular skipper Casey Kopua not fit enough to play on this trip following ankle surgery, Langman will have the honour of being captain as well in her 100th test. Just don't tempt fate by asking her about it.

"I don't want to jinx it yet, so I'll gladly talk to you if it comes about. For me every game's like a first cap and I want to make sure I'm proving myself every time I get out there," Langman said from Glasgow.

She didn't believe she'd maintained her usual standards against Scotland and described the team's collective effort as merely "satisfactory."

Coach Waimarama Taumaunu used all 14 of the fit players she has on tour, as the Silver Ferns seek to give everyone as much court time as possible in the 92 days Langman said stand between them and the Commonwealth Games.

Eight of Scotland's goals came in the final quarter and beyond those 15 minutes there weren't too many occasions when they were able to compete with the Silver Ferns.

"It was a big occasion for them," said Langman.

"They haven't had an experienced team like us come through and be keen to play them in the past, so it was great to be able to do that and for their Minister of Sport to also come along. For us it was about showing that whenever you put on the black dress you need to be able to execute and put on a Silver Ferns performance.

"We had a lot of changes throughout and we wanted to make sure there was clarity in terms of our centre-pass attack predominantly and I think we achieved that."

Langman expected a similar amount of mixing and matching tomorrow, ahead of what will be tricky assignments against Jamaica and England.

Fairfax Media