Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Another blow for Ferns ahead of Quad Series opener

Grace Rasmussen has been ruled out of the Silver Ferns' clash with England. Photo / photosport.nz
Grace Rasmussen has been ruled out of the Silver Ferns' clash with England. Photo / photosport.nz

The Silver Ferns have struck another setback ahead of their opening test of the season, with influential midcourter Grace Rasmussen falling ill.

Rasmussen, the Ferns' first-choice wing attack, has battled a fever this week and while she has recovered enough to take her place in the match-day 12 for today's Quad Series opener against England, she is not considered a full-game option.

Steel midcourter Shannon Francois will start at wing attack in place of Rasmussen.

It means further changes to the Silver Ferns attack end, which has already undergone significant change with the loss of three shooters from last year's World Cup line-up - Maria Tutaia, Jodi Brown, and Malia Paseka - through injury, retirement or pregnancy.

Bailey Mes and Ameliaranne Ekenasio (nee Wells) will pair up in the shooting circle for the first time at international level.

Rasmussen's health battle follows the late scratching of star defender Anna Harrison, who picked up a calf injury during the week. Harrison was replaced in 12-strong line-up by Steel defender Jane Watson.

The English have also had their injury battles, with star defender Geva Mentor ruled out of the match day squad. A representative from England Netball was not immediately available to clarify the reason for Mentor's unavailability.

The world champion Australian side started with their best available line-up for their clash against South Africa, which is first-up on centre court at Vector Arena.

- NZ Herald

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