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Ferns midcourt find another gear

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/09/2016 Cathy Walshe
Laura Langman fights for the ball in the first test against Jamaica. © Getty Images Laura Langman fights for the ball in the first test against Jamaica.

Familiarity doesn't always breed contempt, as Silver Ferns midcourters Laura Langman and Grace Rasmussen have discovered over the last year.

The pair have developed a pacy and intuitive partnership that impressed in helping crush Jamaica 72-34 in Nelson three days ago in the first match of a three-Test series.

The two teams meet again in Palmerston North on Wednesday, with both Langman and Rasmussen confident they can improve on Sunday's showing.

The pair have only been a first-choice combination since last year's World Cup in Australia, and are just beginning to reap the benefits from regular court time together.

Langman, who has amassed 135 caps since making her debut in 2005, says it's encouraging to see how their through-court ball speed is improving.

"Changing the timing and variety on attack, and the ability to be in control when we play at lightning speed, is quite a strength," she told NZ Newswire

"We've definitely grown in understanding - I think that's actually stepped up from where we've been in the past.

"It's great to be back working with Grace. In the midcourt we're really tight, and familiar with how each of us play, and that's a real strength."

Rasmussen, with 35 caps from her five-year international career, says it's been encouraging to see how their midcourt combination has developed over the past year.

"Both myself and Laura have come a long way since we first started playing together," she told NZ Newswire.

"I think we've grown that real connection, that trust and belief in one another, and we can just let the ball go and trust that the other person is going to receive it."

Above all, Langman says, the Silver Ferns are looking to bring a ruthless attitude to all parts of their game.

That's especially important, Rasmussen says, as the New Zealanders prepare to tackle Australia in a four-Test Constellation Cup series next month.

"It's one thing to connect at training and another to really connect under pressure, particularly against the Aussies.

"It's hard to achieve, but I think we're getting there. We've made huge progress."

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