Netball: Pregnancy puts Steel shooter on the sideline

By Dana Johannsen

Last night's 59-48 defeat to the West Coast Fever was likely to be the last time Southern Steel shooter Daneka Wipiiti steps out on court this season.

An announcement is expected as early as today that the Silver Fern is cutting her season short and withdrawing from the Steel squad as she is pregnant.

It is believed Wipiiti will be replaced by former Australian international Megan Dehn, who will join the Southern franchise as a second import player.

The 34-year-old played for the Steel last season and has been training with the squad as well as travelling with the team to Perth for last night's clash.

The Steel needed a win to take the fourth position on the ladder outright.

Before the game, they were tied on 10 points for fourth with the Queensland Firebirds.

The Fever maintained Australia's stranglehold over the competition, their physical defence forcing close errors by the New Zealand players and sending some crashing to the ground.

The Southerners tailed their hosts by about four points for much of the match, but fell of the pace in the last 10 minutes.

The Steel now face a tough run home, which includes three matches against Australian teams - the Firebirds, NSW Swifts and the Adelaide Thunderbirds - over four weeks.

Wipiiti's withdrawal also leaves a spot vacant in the Silver Ferns' shooting end, which could give the national selectors a few headaches, as no really obvious player is putting her hand up in that position.

The selectors will also have a defensive gap to fill after Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic's Leana de Bruin yesterday revealed she was expecting her first child.

The 33-test veteran is yet to decide when she will step aside this season and says she is taking it as a week-by-week proposition. Dana Johannsen

- NZ Herald

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