World Cup winners get back to business
THERE'S no rest for the winners from netball's World Cup.
Fresh from leading New Zealand to victory over Australia in a thrilling decider in Liverpool, the dynamic duo of coach Noeline Taurua and captain Laura Langman have returned to the Sunshine Coast before Saturday's "Battle of the Bruce".
Winless and last on the ladder, the Queensland Firebirds will host the latest instalment of the Sunshine State derby at the Queensland State Netball Centre when the Suncorp Super Netball season resumes.
The Lightning will have five players backing up from the World Cup - Langman, Steph Wood, Karla Pretorius, Phumza Maweni and Peace Proscovia - while the Firebirds had four representatives at the game's showpiece tournament - Gretel Tippett, Romelda Aiken and South Africans Erin Burger and Lenize Potgieter.
In the early hours of Monday morning Australian time, Silver Ferns skipper Langman was hoisting the World Cup trophy above her head.
By Tuesday night, she was back on the Sunshine Coast and was front and centre at training on Thursday.
"To be fair, I like it this way," Langman said. "It's good to get back to business. But we certainly enjoyed the moment over in Liverpool, that's for sure.
"Huge credit goes to Noels (Taurua) and the (New Zealand) coaching staff in terms of what they were able to create. The margins between the top four teams in the world are so narrow now and anyone can beat anyone so we were delighted to come out on top this time around.
"The most important thing is that everybody has come out of the World Cup in one piece and we are looking forward to playing the Firebirds.
"The court down there is amazing and it will be a good test for us because the Firebirds are tough to beat at home. I'm sure the five Lightning girls that stayed at home will really lift us and be the engine for us this week.''
South African defender Pretorius won the Player of the Tournament award in Liverpool to go with her grand final MVP from the Lightning's 2017 premiership win.
Like Langman, Pretorius has quickly switched her focus to the Firebirds and helping the Lightning cement a top two spot on the ladder.
"It was a good tournament over there and I was grateful for the individual honour," she said. "You just do what you have to do and you hope for the best. But we are back and ready to go for the Lightning. It's exciting to be back in the Lightning environment.
"We always knew it would be a quick turnaround from the end of the World Cup so the coaches and support staff had a lot of processes in place to help us get ready for the Firebirds.''