More pressure has been placed on the shoulders of Trinidad and Tobago netball international Kalifa McCollin after her Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel shooting partner Georgia Heffernan ruptured an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).
In her first season in New Zealand’s top flight, McCollin goes into action on Friday against the table-topping Central Pulse without Heffernan who is sidelined for the rest of the year following a serious knee injury. Scans have confirmed a ruptured ACL, MCL (medial collateral ligament) and meniscus damage to her right knee after she landed awkwardly during her side’s match against the Northern Stars.
Tonight’s clash is a surprise top versus bottom encounter. It is no surprise that the reigning champions Pulse are unbeaten having won all five matches played. But the Steel, traditionally one of the top teams, have a single win in five games and are uncomfortable sitting at number six.
Steel head coach Reinga Bloxham said her side would give their full support to helping the 20-year-old Heffernan on her road to recovery.
“I’m absolutely gutted for her. She had been playing really well and was improving with every outing that she had so we are all really feeling for her at the moment,” Bloxham said.
“I think the most disappointing thing for her is knowing that she had worked really hard in the pre-season to be able to contest for the GA bib and really give it a good crack.
Heffernan said it was upsetting to have to watch the rest of season from the sideline but was motivated to come back stronger than ever.
“It’s a disappointing way to finish the season, I didn’t think I had injured my knee as badly as I have but I have to accept that as I can’t change it now,” she said.
“I’m going to really struggle with only being able to watch - in our Round four game on Saturday I was just wishing I was there and I want to stay involved as much as I can with the Steel team.
“It’s just a wait now before surgery and then I’ll get into the rehab side of things and get back as soon as possible.”
The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel will continue to explore their options before confirming a replacement player for the remainder of the season.