After six weeks of hard slog, Donna Wilkins' comeback bid came crashing down around her at the weekend, with the Steel shooter breaking her wrist in a warm-up match in Queenstown.
Wilkins lost her footing while trying to pull down a rebound in Saturday's win over the Australian Institute of Sport, landing heavily on her hand.
The injury will keep Wilkins out of action for a number of weeks and the former Silver Fern is likely to miss the opening rounds of the Steel's ANZ Championship campaign.
It is a gut-wrenching blow for the former dual international, who was making her return to top-level netball following the birth of her first child in December.
Having only started training six weeks ago, Wilkins had regained her fitness and was looking strong in her first few hit-outs of the tournament.
"I'd done all the hard yards to get to this stage and then for this to happen is really disappointing. I really wanted to get on the court and get as much match time in as I could," said Wilkins. "But these things happen, it's what sport is all about and if you can't handle that then you probably shouldn't be playing."
Wilkins said she had yet to discuss any timeframes on her recovery.
"We'll know more about how long and what we've got up against us tomorrow or Tuesday, once I've had another scan and seen a specialist."
But she joked that she was pretty much a professional at overcoming such injuries, having now broken her arm four times.
Wilkins wasn't the only high-profile Steel player in the wars. Defender Sheryl Scanlan injured her calf muscle in Friday's loss to the Northern Mystics and was forced to sit out the rest of the tournament, while her fellow Silver Fern Liana Barrett-Chase was given yesterday off as she wassuffering from tightness in her hip flexors.
Scanlan said she twinged her calf muscle about a month ago in training, and appears to have suffered a recurrence on Friday night. Not wanting to exacerbate the injury any further heading in to a long season, the Steel medical staff opted to rest Scanlan for their remaining games.
"We've got the whole season ahead as well as the pre-season tournament in Sydney, plus I'm not getting any younger so I don't want to push it. As much as I want to get out there and play, I know I need to be cautious for now," said Scanlan.
The former Mystics defender hopes to be back to full training in a couple of weeks.
The injuries in the camp are a major setback for the Steel, who were already facing a race against time to have a fully fit side come the start of the competition.
The Steel looked sluggish in their opening hit-outs over the weekend, with just one win from five games. The tournament hosts also drew 36-all with the lowly Central Pulse in a shortened match yesterday, proving they have a long way to go if they are to live up to initial billings as one of the title contenders.