The Northern Mystics are reviewing their approach to training as the injury toll in the camp mounts.
Rookie defender Holly Fowler, who has been a regular starter for the Auckland side this season, is the latest to join the casualty list after picking up a foot injury in last week's loss to the Magic. The 19-year-old has been ruled out for three weeks with the soft tissue injury, joining star midcourter Kayla Cullen on the sideline for this weekend's clash with the table-topping Southern Steel.
Cullen has missed the past two games with a stress reaction in her foot and is expected to be out for three more matches, creating a difficult juggling act for Mystics coach Debbie Fuller, who is already light on midcourters.
But this season has been a constant juggling act for Fuller, having to manage a string of injuries in the camp including Anna Harrison (calf), Serena Guthrie (Achilles), Nadia Loveday (back) and Temalisi Fakahokotau (ankle, then back).
Fuller said the level of attrition in the squad has forced team management to examine its practices.
"You have to review loading, training approach, what was done in the off-season to reduce the resilience in the group, so that is what we are looking at in the background," said Fuller.
The Mystics have some injury relief: Fakahokotau is expected to return, albeit on limited minutes, while Loveday hopes to play a full match.
This season was supposed to be the year Loveday established herself as a key member of the team after the departure of Laura Langman (Swifts) and Camilla Lees (retired). But a painful back injury suffered in the pre-season ruled her out for the opening three rounds.
"It's been a really long haul to be honest. [Being sidelined] disconnected me from the team for a little bit, but it has been good to get out there these last few weeks and just try and consolidate combinations," she said.
Fuller said the team recognise they need to regain control of their season against the Steel in Dunedin tomorrow. The southern franchise helped the Mystics' season off to a miserable start, pulling off a thrilling one-goal win in the opening round after trailing by five with less than three minutes to go.
The Pulse take on the Magic in Tauranga on Monday.