Silver Ferns physio Sharon Kearney was one of the many people whose face flashed through Laura Langman's mind yesterday.
No-one, not even someone as tenacious as Langman, plays 100 consecutive netball tests without help. Luck and the faith of national coaches Ruth Aitken and Waimarama Taumaunu had also contributed, as well as some early advice from Kearney.
"I remember the famous words from our physio, Shaz, who said 'you'll get to a point in your career where you just have to play through the niggles' and I've certainly had my share," Langman said, having marked the occasion by captaining New Zealand to a 49-32 win over England in London.
Langman was "hugely overwhelmed and humbled" to join Lesley Rumball and Irene van Dyk as the third woman to play a century of tests for the Silver Ferns, having made her debut against England in March 2005.
She said she's never been consumed by the remarkable streak or insisted she be put on court to keep it going, with Taumaunu adding that "she always justified selection" anyway.
"First, I don't think it will ever be repeated. It's just too physically demanding and that's before you even get to the question of how she's managed to do it without injuring herself at any time. It's just phenomenal," Taumaunu said.
"The few times I have considered it [not picking Langman], it's always been about resting her, not justifying her form. I really only started coaching this team when Laura was in the 90s or late 80s, so I was a little bit aware that I didn't want to be the one that potentially ruined it all, so she always got a bit of [court] time.
"Even if I was trying to rest her, she got on there briefly."
Regular skipper Casey Kopua made her Silver Ferns debut in the same year as Langman and the pair were Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic team-mates for a decade. Injury ruled her out of playing on this tour, but she was happy to have still been in London to see Langman make a bit of history.
"She works bloody hard and she deserves whatever she gets and all the praise, because she has so much passion and determination for this," Kopua said.
- Fairfax Media
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