Injured Cullen to miss Commonwealth Games

Author
NZN,
Section
Netball,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 28 March 2018, 1:30PM
Kayla Cullen has been forced to pull out of the Commonwealth Games. (Photo \ Photosport)
Kayla Cullen has been forced to pull out of the Commonwealth Games. (Photo \ Photosport)

New Zealand's Commonwealth Games netball hopes have taken another hit after Kayla Cullen was ruled out with injury.

Versatile defender Cullen has failed to recover sufficiently from an on-going knee injury and will be replaced by the inexperienced Claire Kersten for next month's Games on the Gold Coast.

Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby says the diagnosis is a major blow for both Cullen and the team which departs on Friday.

"We're devastated for Kayla who is an extremely competitive and passionate player within our ranks," Southby said.

"But we also need to think about what is best for her future, ensuring we can see her back on court as soon as possible."

Southby says Cullen wasn't ready for the rigours of an intense tournament and it is important she gets herself physically ready for next year's World Cup in England.

It is not the first time the 26-year-old has been ruled out of a major event, having missed the Netball World Youth Cup in 2013.

That knee injury sidelined her for a year before returning to be the first- choice wing defence as New Zealand reached the final of the 2015 World Cup.

The injury news comes on the back of New Zealand's poor run of recent results, including twin losses to Jamaica at last week's Taini Jamison Trophy in Auckland.

Cullen appeared only in the win over Fiji.

Midcourter Kersten, who covers wing defence and centre, has played three Tests, including twice last week.

Silver Ferns: Katrina Grant (capt), Maria Folau, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Temalisi Fakahokotau, Shannon Francois, Kelly Jury, Grace Kara, Claire Kersten, Bailey Mes, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Samantha Sinclair, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson.

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