Langman's run of 100 tests a phenomenal feat
OPINION: Occasionally in the world of international sport, good things happen to good people.
Good things quite often happen to bad people as well, but that's another conversation for another time.
Take Silver Ferns netballer Laura Langman. Even the most hardened and cynical of observers couldn't help but be impressed - even moved - by her accomplishment of making her 100th consecutive test appearance in London on Tuesday against England. Perhaps surviving would be a more appropriate description.
Achieving 100 hundred tests is a phenomenal achievement for any sportsperson. In a sport as energetic and physically taxing as netball, where the potential for injury is constant, it's downright staggering. Add Langman's aggressive and relentless approach to the equation, the fact that her milestone was made of consecutive appearances, and it's bordering on miraculous.
Sure, Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumanu admits that there might have been occasions over the past couple of years where Langman was given only limited court time to at least help pay some sort of lip service to resting one of her key players. The point is, Langman's always been available for selection, which again, according to Taumanu, has always been on merit.
Langman said she was "hugely overwhelmed and humbled" to join Lesley Rumball and Irene van Dyk as only the third woman to play a century of tests for the Silver Ferns, having made her debut against England in March 2005.
It's not just Tuesday's milestone that singles Langman out from the pack, though. She's netball's version of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw; that almost "aw shucks", down-to-earth humility belying their respective ferocious and competitive spirits.
Regular Silver Ferns captain Casey Kopua, with 77 internationals now behind her, appears cut from almost identical cloth.
Langman's a class act, again emphasised following Tuesday's 49-32 win over England.
Due to severe floor damage caused by a previous weightlifting competition, organisers were unexpectedly forced to transfer the test from its originally scheduled venue at London's Copper Box Arena to the much more spartan environs of a local school gymnasium.
Handed the microphone following the test as the Silver Ferns celebrated both their victory and Langman's own significant achievement, Langman still had the grace to thank the match organisers for quickly reorganising the event under the most testing of circumstances. Others might not have bothered or been as positive.
There are any number of words to describe Langman: Gritty, selfless, tenacious, determined. Just as importantly, she plays with genuine heart and pride.
It's been noted that she probably isn't the most brilliant player to have worn the black dress.
Regardless, it's hard to imagine the Silver Ferns without her.
- © Fairfax NZ News