Anna Harrison's return to the transtasman netball league has been put on hold with the star defender to miss the Mystics' opening round match this weekend as the Auckland side's injury curse from 2013 continues.
Harrison, who withdrew from the Mystics squad before the start of last season after announcing she was expecting her first child, has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Melbourne Vixens with a foot injury.
Having allowed herself plenty of time to get back to full fitness after the birth of son Isaac in September, the lanky defender was pleased with the progress she had made in the pre-season.
But Harrison suffered a major setback this month when she picked up a niggling foot injury. Mystics coach Debbie Fuller said at this stage she did not have an indication of how long she would be without Harrison, but she did not plan on rushing her key defensive weapon back into action.
"If you push them too soon it doesn't do the athletes any good long term - I've had to learn to be patient with these sort of things," Fuller said.
It is not just Harrison's injury concerns trying Fuller's patience at the moment. She jokes her medical knowledge is improving hugely as she gets her head around all the injuries affecting her squad.
Former Magic defender Jodi Tod-Elliott has had limited court time in the pre-season as she manages an old ankle injury, while versatile star Kayla Cullen continues her long road back from a knee reconstruction.
Given all the injuries in the defensive end, former Magic utility Jess Tuki has been contracted to the Mystics squad for six weeks as extra cover. Tuki will travel to Melbourne this weekend in place of Harrison, while Mystics development player Kirsten Hurley will take Cullen's spot. Should Tod-Elliott be ruled out, Jessica Bourke will come into the match day 12.
The good news for Fuller is Bourke has some solid ANZ Championship experience, having been elevated to a fulltime contract with the Mystics last season after the Auckland side were decimated through injury.
By the end of the season Bourke ended up virtually anchoring the Mystics defensive end when Australian import Julie Corletto and Jessica Moulds succumbed to serious injury.
There was one other piece of good news for Fuller with shooter Bailey Mes cleared to play having completed a remarkable fightback from a ruptured ACL in the Mystics' final game of 2013.