The Mainland Tactix are unlikely to have the services of skipper Jess Moulds until the final weeks of the season.
Moulds assumed the captaincy duties of the Canterbury-based side for the inaugural season of the ANZ Premiership, despite still recovering from a serious knee injury. The energetic defender ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament during an NZA fixture against England in September last year.
While the 27-year-old is on track with her rehabilitation, she is not expected to be back on court for the Tactix until June.
Typically, an ACL injury takes nine months before a player is back in fully-contested trainings, but for some players, it can take up to a year to rebuild the confidence and match-fitness to take the court again.
Moulds, who was sitting sideline for the Tactix huge first-up loss to the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic last night, said there is no set timeframe on her return to play, but admits it is still a way off.
"I'm well on track, if not ahead of schedule, but obviously an ACL injury is not a quick fix, so it is going as well as it can and I'm just doing everything possible to get back out on court," she said.
"I have just graduated from straight-line running to changing direction now, which is an exciting development. You have to celebrate those small gains, so after that, things will start getting a bit more court specific, which is great."
After a 23-goal hammering at the hands of the new-look Magic side, the Tactix look set to be in for a long couple of months, without their most experienced defender.
The team's defensive stocks took a further hit in the lead-up to the opening game, with key recruit Temalisi Fakahokotau ruled out with a minor back injury. The absence of the two-test Silver Fern and Moulds saw two players from Netball Mainland's Beko League team earn an immediate call-up to the top-tier side, with converted shooter Sophia Fenwick and 1.92m defender Kate Lloyd coming in as injury cover.
The Tactix defensive end struggled to contain the Magic attacking line-up, with South African import Lenize Potgieter producing a particularly dominant performance, nailing 54 of her 58 attempts at goal in the Magic's 71-48 win.
Moulds said her side were especially disappointed to let the scoreline blow out the way it did, after trailing by six goals at halftime.
"I know the girls will take this one really hard, so it will be a tough week, but I know we can bounce back," she said.
"I don't think the score was reflective of the game that we had. I saw so much flair out there, and the skill and athleticism I know we have. I think it's about controlling that speed and cherishing the ball a bit more."