The Southern Steel have suffered a major blow just weeks out from the start of the ANZ netball premiership, with England international shooter George Fisher ruled out with a season ending knee injury.
Fisher ruptured her ACL and also fractured her knee during the the Steel's pre-season match against the New South Wales Swifts in Invercargill on Sunday.
The injury also ends Fisher's hopes to making the England squad for the World Cup in Capetown in July.
"It's very tough news. It is going to be hard but I'm just taking it one day at a time and seeing how my body deals with everything," Fisher said.
"This is my first major injury - I have had little niggles here and there but nothing like this. The reality is when you play sport you always know that injury is a very present risk.
"Right now my main focus is just walking again! I will be setting small goals along the line that are maintainable and achievable."
"I'm just gutted I won't be able to play alongside of them this year....I have an amazing support team here with the girls and my family at home in England are always calling to chat. My partner (Southland Sharks basketballer Brayden Inger) has also been a huge help with running around after me and quite literally carrying me around."
The Steel is now on the hunt for a replacement shooter.
"It's always a net that we cast wide. We've got options locally and nationally and we're going to make sure we do our homework around that," said coach Reinga Bloxham.
"We've still got the rest of the preseason to integrate a replacement into the team and we will be working hard to do that over the next few weeks."
The Southern Steel open the ANZ Premiership season playing the Mystics in Auckland on March 4th.