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Cullen to follow Tutaia's injury path

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/09/2016 Cathy Walshe

Silver Ferns goal attack Maria Tutaia has finally shaken off the moon boot and returned to the netball court, but defender Kayla Cullen has taken her place.

The 24-year-old wing defence has been ruled out of next month's four-Test Constellation Cup series against Australia with a stress fracture on her right foot.

Tutaia missed the Quad Series against England, South Africa and Australia, as well as the Jamaican series with a bruised bone in her right foot, but has been given the all-clear for the Constellation Cup.

Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby says Cullen had been managing the injury throughout the trans-Tasman league, and it had flared up again during the three-Test series against Jamaica earlier this month.

"We're obviously disappointed - her foot injury hasn't healed like we wanted it to, and the sensible thing to do is to allow her an opportunity to get it right," Southby told NZ Newswire.

"It's pretty gutting, really. But there's a risk if we didn't do that she'd need surgery and we don't really want to send her down that path."

Cullen, who has fronted for 35 Tests since her 2011 debut against England, will also miss the Fast5 Netball World Series as the injury requires six to eight weeks of rehabilitation.

Southby was hopeful that Cullen would be able to maintain a base level of fitness despite needing the protection of a moon boot.

"There's an opportunity for her to get it really right now so that she's ready for the northern Quad Series in January and February.

"We've just had Maria come through that whole system, and we'd like to think that for Kayla in six to eight weeks' time when it comes off, she's not too far off the pace."

Southern Steel midcourter Gina Crampton will come into the Silver Ferns for the Constellation Cup, which begins on October 9 in Sydney and ends in Invercargill 11 days later.

A decision on a replacement player for the Fast5 series, in Melbourne on October 29-30, is expected next week.

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