Netball: Shooter Grace Nweke's return timely as champions Northern Mystics scramble for ANZ Premiership playoffs

After sitting on the sidelines for most of the ANZ Premiership season, one of the country's best players is hoping to make a comeback this round. 

Silver Ferns shooter Grace Nweke has been nursing a knee injury for the second time, as she  watches Northern Mystics go through some highs and lows. 

The time off has been bittersweet. 

"It's just a matter of letting go and playing, and whatever happens happens, but I feel like I'm ready," she told Newshub.

Grace Nweke in action for Northern Mystics.
Grace Nweke in action for Northern Mystics. Photo credit: Photosport

The Mystics star suffered ligament damage to her right knee in round three of the competition, which is now heading into the business end. 

"It's hard to show up everyday and be happy, and bring my best self to the environment, knowing that I want to be there, but I can't," she admitted. 

This isn't the first injury Nweke has suffered. Just last year, during the Netball World Cup, she first tore her patella tendon and spent months in rehab. 

She has tried to reprioritise this time, focusing on things outside the sport, like her studies. 

"You get to put your life in order off the court," she said. "It's also reminding me how much I do love netball, and how lucky I am to be able to run and move and play... and really just not taking that for granted." 

Falling in love with the sport again comes with pain, as Nweke worries about the vulnerability of her twice-injured knee.

"I guess it is just that mental struggle, as well," she said. "You can be as good as what you are in the gym, but you never know what's going to happen in a game.

"You know sport is cruel and it's hard to show up every day, knowing anything can happen." 

Her team push her forward. The defending champions sit third on the ladder and with the top three teams going to the playoffs, they now face must-win matches. 

"It will take a full team effort and lots of connection these next 4-5 weeks to really close out the season for us," said Nweke. 

Hopefully, they'll have a fully fit, world-class shooter when they take on Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic on Monday night.