New Zealand netball's medal prospects at the Gold Commonwealth Games have suffered another blow with the withdrawal of key defender Kayla Cullen.
The Aucklander, with 47 test caps to her name, has succumbed to an ongoing knee injury and has been replaced in the Silver Ferns by midcourter Claire Kersten.
Ferns coach Janine Southby concedes this is a major blow to her team, as they prepare to leave for Australia.
"We're devastated for Kayla, who is an extremely competitive and passionate player within our ranks," says Southby.
"But we also need to think about what is best for her future, ensuring we can see her back on court as soon as possible.
"We are really conscious of players needing to be able to deliver the performance requirements of the team in the demands of tournament play."
Cullen had to be managed through the recent four-team Taini Jamison Trophy, playing just three quarters against Fiji. Kersten has played three tests for the Silver Ferns and effectively covered for Cullen last week.
While New Zealand have contested every netball final at the Commonwealth Games, capturing gold twice and a silver at Glasgow four years ago, they seem to have fallen behind Australia, England and Jamaica in the world pecking order over recent months.
Losing Cullen won't help them rectify that.