Calm before the storm for unsigned Coast skipper Langman

 

Lightning captain Laura Langman could be playing her last match for the Sunshine Coast in Sunday's Suncorp Super Netball grand final against the NSW Swifts.

But she treats every final like it's her last so it will be business as usual for the Kiwi superstar in the 2019 decider at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

The Lightning have re-signed eight of the 10 players who will suit-up today with only Langman and fellow midcourter Jacqui Russell yet to recommit to the trophy-collecting powerhouse for 2020.

The 33-year-old has already breezed past the 150-Test and 200 national league game milestones in her stellar career which hit a high point earlier this year when she captained New Zealand to victory at the Netball World Cup.

Sunshine Coast captain Laura Langman could be playing here final game for the Lightning. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images
Sunshine Coast captain Laura Langman could be playing here final game for the Lightning. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images

 

She was part of the Lightning side that won the 2017 premiership before heading back to New Zealand in 2018 when she worked in the finance sector and got involved in cross-fit and adventure racing.

Langman returned to the Sunshine Coast this year - which offset the Lightning's loss of Geva Mentor and Caitlin Bassett - and she has been a force to be reckoned with, notably touching the ball 202 times in the major semi-final win over the Swifts two weeks ago.

The midcourter has done it all in the sport and will decide what the future holds after the grand final.

"I'm undecided (about next year). I just want to take my time and make a good decision. I don't want to be in a hurry,'' Langman said.

"I've always played finals like they are my last game, absolutely. This one won't be any different.

 

Sunshine Coast Lightning head coach Noeline Taurua, captain Laura Langman, NSW Swifts captain Paige Hadley and head coach Briony Akle. Picture: AAP Image/Albert Perez
Sunshine Coast Lightning head coach Noeline Taurua, captain Laura Langman, NSW Swifts captain Paige Hadley and head coach Briony Akle. Picture: AAP Image/Albert Perez

 

"You definitely have to bring that desperation because you never know when your last game will be.

"It's been a fairytale year for me. It's been outstanding. To be able to get back amongst both the NZ and Lightning playing groups has been a highlight.

"When I signed on the dotted line to come back here, I didn't know if I was going to last, if I could hack it, so to be in the grand final is pretty special because playing in grand finals is the ultimate.

"There's game day, then there's finals game day and I love the vibe and I love seeing the twinkle in the eyes of people."

Langman first won a title with departing Lightning coach Noeline Taurua in the 2012 ANZ Championship when they were together at the Waikato/BOP Magic.

Another crown with the Sunshine Coast in 2017 and this year's World Cup have been other triumphs for the duo along the way.

"When she first took over the Lightning, it was testament to her ability that players were putting up their hands to follow Noels here,'' Langman said.

"We didn't have a headquarters or netballs or bibs or anything like that when we started but we had her. So we actually had a headstart because she is such a visionary who gets the best out of individuals.

"I'd go to war with Noels, any day of the week.''

 

Lightning attackers Stephanie Wood and Cara Koenen. Picture: Lachie Millard
Lightning attackers Stephanie Wood and Cara Koenen. Picture: Lachie Millard

 

LONG JOURNEY TO FINAL FOR CARA

PLANES, trains, automobiles - and ferries.

It has been quite the journey to the Suncorp Super Netball grand final for Lightning goalshooter Cara Koenen.

Koenen grew up in a sporting family on Magnetic Island, off Townsville, but did not play netball until she hit high school as the island did not have any junior teams.

She was then a regular on the ferry to and from the mainland as she quickly raced through the junior pathways system to keeppace with her equally talented siblings - older sister Breanna (Lions AFLW), brother Dirk (Gold Coast Suns academy) and younger sister Alyssa (Australian surf lifesaving team).

The 23-year-old got on court in 10 games across the 2017 and 2018 Super Netball seasons for the championship-winning Lightning,stuck behind Australian Diamonds duo Steph Wood and Caitlin Bassett.

The 190cm-tall Koenen has enjoyed a breakout 2019 with an eye-catching pre-season earning her the starting goalshooter spot ahead of Peace Proscovia for most of the campaign.

Koenen also put her double degree university studies in Criminology and Forensic Science on hold to focus on her netball.

She has made the most of her greater opportunities, to the point where she has been tipped to graduate to the Australian Diamonds herself in the near future.

"I put in a lot of hours and did a lot of work during the pre-season and having Caitlin Bassett move to the Giants createdthat opportunity for me to shove my foot in the door a little bit,'' Koenen said.

"I clocked up a whole lot of kilometres over the years in cars, planes and ferries to get to training and carnivals so it'sbeen a bit of a different road. Everyone has their own story and challenges but it's been well worth it.''

 

SUPER NETBALL GRAND FINAL

Sunday, 1pm at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre

Live on Channel 9


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