Shoulder injury forces Stephens' exit from team

BY GEOFF LONGLEY
Last updated 05:00 13/03/2010

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The Tactix have lost their only import player for the ANZ netball championship, which starts next weekend, with Australian Peta Stephens succumbing to a chronic shoulder injury.

A replacement player will be considered, but there is no certainty of a signing.

The team will take an 11-member squad into their campaign which begins on Monday week against the Central Pulse.

Stephens, 32, injured her shoulder soon after the Tactix assembled in mid-January.

She aggravated it during her only pre-season match last month at a tournament in Queenstown.

It was hoped Stephens, an experienced defender who captained the Queensland Firebirds for the past two seasons, would recover in time but the shoulder did not settle as expected.

Tactix team medico Dr Deb Robinson examined Stephens earlier this week and decided the injury would not improve in time to take part in the majority of the season.

"We had to set a deadline for her fitness and this week was it," said Tactix chief executive Anthony Dawson.

Tactix team physiotherapist Marion Meates said: "Unfortunately, she is still unable to throw, meaning she has missed most of the pre-season training."

Stephens has returned to Brisbane where she is undertaking a strengthening programme.

Dawson said losing Stephens was a blow, but he was confident her team-mates could cover her absence.

Dawson said because Stephens had hardly trained the other three defenders, Charlotte Kight, Victoria Smith and Anna Galvan were already shouldering the load admirably.

"Charlotte is a class act, Victoria Smith has really stepped up in the pre-season and Anna Galvan just gets better and better coming back to the top level."

Dawson said they would seek approval from Netball New Zealand to gain a replacement for Stephens but that did not mean they would get one.

"Obviously most of the best players are already signed up for the season but there are one or two options we will look at."

The Tactix have their final pre-season games this weekend when they play two matches in Dunedin tomorrow, one against the Southern Steel and the other against an Otago development team.

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