Could Langman play at Games?

Former Silver Fern Laura Langman in action. Photo: Getty Images
Former Silver Fern Laura Langman in action. Photo: Getty Images
There is still plenty to play out both at home and abroad before Janine Southby can settle on her Silver Ferns line-up for the Commonwealth Games.

Southby today named an extended squad of 14 for next month's Quad Series tour, which will see the team travel thousands of kilometres between UK and South Africa in between fixtures. It would stand to reason that those 14 players will form the pool from which the New Zealand selectors will pick the 12-strong team for the April Commonwealth Games.

But Silver Ferns management will be keeping a close eye on the status of a couple of players back home, including star midcourter Laura Langman.

Langman, a veteran of 141 tests for New Zealand, has not played for the Ferns since late 2016 after opting to take up a contract in the Australian league, making her ineligible for national selection.

The Silver Ferns great was poised to line up for the Sunshine Coast Lightning again next year, before making the shock decision to walk away from her contract last month.

It is still unclear why Langman hastily terminated her contract. The 31-year-old has asked for time and space while she contemplates her next steps.

Langman met with Netball NZ earlier this month and while officials are hopeful of seeing the athletic star back in the black dress, a timeframe has not been set. Southby has hinted Langman may still be an option for the April Commonwealth Games.

"That's a conversation we've had with Laura and we just want to be respectful of where she's at. She's opted to have a little bit of time out. We've still got the communication lines open and come February we'll just see where she's at," said Southby.

"It would be a handy wee option to have up our sleeves, that's for sure."

The selectors are also keeping a close eye on the progress of shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio, who continues to make her comeback after giving birth to son Ocean six months ago.

Ekenasio took full part in Silver Ferns trials last week, but the decision was made to leave her out of the Quad Series line-up to give her time to work on her fitness and strength and conditioning base back home.

Asked if Ekenasio was part of the thinking for the Commonwealth Games, Southby responded:

"She's working really hard to make sure that she is.

"I've spoken to her today and she is absolutely committed to getting back and getting herself ready to go."

While Southby named an extended team for next month's Quad Series, in which the Ferns will be defending their title won in September, there still wasn't room for one recent frontline player.

Gina Crampton was the main casualty from yesterday naming, with the Steel midcourter and young Magic shooter Monica Falkner the only two members from the wider squad not to make the cut for next month's tour.

Recently married midcourter Grace Kara (nee Rasmussen) has effectively replaced Crampton in the line-up, joining athletic in-circle defender Phoenix Karaka in making a return after missing October's Constellation Cup series.

Kara is not the only new name, but familiar face, in the line-up. The shooting end will feature Maria Folau, nee Tutaia, after the Ferns vice-captain wed Australian rugby star Israel Folau in the off-season.

With Commonwealth Games spots up for grabs, the Netball Quad Series presents the last opportunity for players from the Silver Ferns, Australian Diamonds, England Roses and South African Proteas to press their claims ahead of teams being named for the Gold Coast event.

Silver Ferns Squad for Netball Quad Series:
Katrina Grant (c), Maria Folau (nee Tutaia) (vc), Kayla Cullen, Temalisi Fakahokotau, Shannon Francois, Kelly Jury, Grace Kara (nee Rasmussen), Phoenix Karaka, Bailey Mes, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Samantha Sinclair, Whitney Souness, Jane Watson, Maia Wilson.

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