Temalisi Fakahokotau's Netball World Cup dream is in doubt, after suffering a serious injury at Silver Ferns training.
Fakahokotau has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2018 season after she ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee - adding to a growing injury crisis in defence for the Ferns.
The 22-test defender was highly likely to be the starting goal keep for the Ferns, having been one of the few players to come out of the disastrous Commonwealth Games campaign with her reputation enhanced. The defender also shone during the ANZ Premiership season with the Mainland Tactix, leading the competition in intercepts, deflections and rebounding.
However, the injury is now set to have her on the sidelines for an extended period. Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua says Fakahokotau is consulting a specialist to see whether the injury will require surgery, which would put her chances of playing at July's World Cup in serious doubt.
"If you go for surgery, you're looking at least a year before she can have full impact out on court – usually it's between nine and 12 months but you don't want to push it as well, because there's always the worry that you could do it again if you move too fast too soon," Taurua told D'Arcy Waldegrave on Radio Sport.
"If it's non-surgical, she could be back by ANZ, but that's a long shot."
Fakahokotau's absence leaves the Ferns even lighter on defenders, with a dearth of goal keep options available for the Quad Series which starts this weekend.
With Kelly Jury out after shoulder surgery and Casey Kopua aiming for an October return from her foot injury, Jane Watson is likely to start at goal keep, alongside Katrina Grant at goal defence.
Grant and Watson are the only plausible options to cover the goal keep position, while the inexperienced goal defence duo of Karin Burger and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson are the only other specialist defenders in the squad.
All in all, it's hardly a perfect build-up for the Ferns ahead of their first game under Taurua. They begin their new era on Saturday against England, before facing off against South Africa on Tuesday and Australia the following Sunday.
Few will be picking the Ferns to topple England in their opener, and while she's preaching patience, Taurua is pleased with what she's seen so far.
"It's been action packed but I'm actually quite happy with where we're currently sitting.
"We know we're not going to be the complete deal, but it's a start."