Injuries taking toll on premiership sides

Mystics shooter, Grace Nweke, is sidelined from the ANZ Premiership with a knee injury. PHOTO:...
Mystics shooter, Grace Nweke, is sidelined from the ANZ Premiership with a knee injury. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The Southern Steel are not the only ANZ Premiership team with injuries mounting up. Nearly every team has at least one player out injured — including top Silver Ferns — and most are shooters.

Netball writer Kayla Hodge takes stock of the ever increasing pile of injuries after six rounds.

Northern Mystics

Injured: Grace Nweke

Possibly the biggest injury loss of the competition. Nweke, arguably one of the best shooters in the world, is the linchpin at the back for the Mystics — and the Silver Ferns — and has been ruled out for up to six weeks after straining the patella tendon in her right knee. It is the same knee that gave Nweke grief at last year’s Netball World Cup and ruled her out of the event halfway through the tournament.

Northern Stars

Injured: Amorangi Malesala, Emma Thompson.

The Stars goal attack was ruled out on April 26 after suffering an ankle injury the week before Easter. At the time, she was expected to be out for up to four weeks and has not been seen yet. Malesala, who made her debut for the Silver Ferns earlier this year, has been an integral part of the Stars attack line and her absence has meant Maia Wilson has been pushed out the front on more than one occasion. They have struggled to find the connections as smoothly as usual without Malesala and miss her long-range shooting as well. The Stars were also without midcourter Emma Thompson earlier on in the season due to concussion. She returned last week to make her debut, but will skip this weekend through her return- to-play programme.

Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic

Injured: No-one.

So far the Magic have been pretty lucky in the injury department. Aside from a few niggles here and there, which every team expects throughout the season, the Magic have managed to escape the injury curse looming this season. Silver Fern and Magic captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio missed Monday’s game through illness and Ali Wilshier was also absent.

Central Pulse

Injured: Amelia Walmsley, Tiana Metuarau, Maddy Gordon

Other than the Steel, the Pulse have been hit the hardest by injuries this season with three Silver Ferns parked on the bench. But somehow their depth has been strong enough to see them unbeaten so far. Metuarau is yet to take the court, having sat out the opening six rounds with a foot niggle. That was already a blow, but then Gordon went over awkwardly on her ankle against the Steel in round three. That resulted in a significant ligament sprain and ruled her out for up to 12 weeks. Then, two weeks ago, Walmsley — who has already had to step up playing goal attack without Metuarau — slipped and hurt her knee. Scans revealed ligament damage which will sideline her for up to eight weeks. It is a concern for the competition front-runners, who are now using their training partners to hold their shooting end together.

Mainland Tactix

Injured: Aliyah Dunn

Dunn, one of the most accurate shooters in the ANZ Premiership, is yet to take the court for the Tactix this season. Initially just ruled out for the opening round, the Tactix announced late last month the shooter had undergone knee surgery and would be out for up to six weeks. Dunn hurt her knee while playing for the Tactix in the Southern Showdown in Dunedin back in March.

Southern Steel

Injured: George Fisher, Shannon Saunders, Jen O’Connell

Fisher was ruled out before the season even began with a knee injury that has plagued her and resulted in her being sidelined last year as well. It was a gutting blow for the Steel and they were dealt another last week when midcourter Shannon Saunders was ruled out for the season, also with a knee injury. Saunders, who played the three games for the Steel on her return this year, had more tests done which revealed a tear in her cartilage. Jen O’Connell, who joined the team as a replacement for Fisher, has also seldom taken the court as she nurses an ankle injury she picked up against the Mystics and is likely to miss the next two weeks. They cannot catch a break.