Silver Ferns' captain Casey Kopua's "dodgy ankles" have once again conspired to disrupt her test-match career.
Kopua has been scratched from the playing squad for the Ferns tour to Britain this month as she recovers from minor ankle surgery in the off-season.
The 1.87m defender had arthroscopic surgery on her left ankle last month to clear out some rogue cartilage - the same procedure she had on her other ankle two years ago.
The inspirational defender was still allowed to join her team on the flight to Scotland last night as Kopua was deemed fit enough to be included in the tour squad as a training partner.
Despite not being able to suit up for the tests against England and Jamaica, Kopua still believes the tour, which includes exhibition games against Scotland and England A, will be valuable for her preparation for the Commonwealth Games.
"(The injury disruptions) seem like a bit of a pattern for me, thanks to my dodgy ankles but that's okay - I'm really looking to ANZ Championships and Commonwealth Games this year," she said.
"There's obviously a little bit of frustration not being able to play, but I still think it's worthwhile to get over there and meet the people, see the venues and deal with that long-haul flight, which we haven't done for a while."
Under-21 star Phoenix Karaka, who was initially included in the wider tour squad by Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu with an eye to the future, will take Kopua's place in the 12-strong test line-up. An athletic player with an exceptional vertical leap, Karaka is still very much a raw talent, but the Steel defender is realistic about the work she needs to do to push her way into a fulltime position in the team.
She admits forcing her way into contention for the July Commonwealth Games might be a bit ambitious, with the 2015 World Cup in Sydney her focus for now.
"I'm still really new to the environment and it's just like a whole other level," she said.
"I haven't had a lot of time to develop my combinations with the other girls so there's a lot for me to learn."
Regardless of whether Karaka is ready for test-match netball or not, Taumaunu may have little option but to throw her into action in Britain.
The Ferns were already light on defenders before Kopua was ruled out, with Anna Harrison still unavailable for national duties while she returns from the birth of her first child.
Veteran defender Leana de Bruin has also had her fitness struggles in recent seasons, and looked to be carrying a niggly quad injury in yesterday's training session in Auckland before the team flew out.