Netball: Pregnant Harrison withdraws from Mystics

The Northern Mystics' formidable-looking defensive end has taken another huge hit, with star defender Anna Harrison withdrawing from the team this season after announcing her pregnancy.

Harrison informed her teammates yesterday that she is expecting her first child and would miss the ANZ Championship season, beginning in six weeks.

"There were a lot of mixed emotions telling the girls, I'm definitely going to miss being part of the playing group, but I'm also looking forward to contributing to their success in other ways," Harrison said.

Given Harrison accepted the co-captaincy of the Mystics just four weeks ago, caretaker coach Ruth Aitken admitted she was caught off guard. But she said when it comes to coaching women's sport she has learnt to deal with these challenges as they arrive.

Harrison's withdrawal leaves a big hole in the Mystics defensive stocks, with the Auckland side already losing Charlotte Kight to an Achilles injury.

Australian import Julie Corletto will now be relied upon to anchor the defensive end, with rookie Jess Moulds likely to assume the starting goal keep role.

The dual losses will not only stretch the Mystics playing resources, but also their finances with the franchise paying two players they will get no court time out of. Payment for any replacement players sits outside the salary cap, meaning the Mystics will have to find the money for any replacement contracts themselves.

Aitken said her first preference is to look to her extended squad of Jessica Bourke (defence end), Lavinia Vaitohi and Erikana Pederson (midcourt) to see if they are ready to step up.