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New Zealand Netballer Kayla Cullen to miss Commonwealth Games

New Zealand Netballer defender Kayla Cullen has been ruled out of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games having failed to recover sufficiently from an on-going knee injury.

The versatile defender, who has 47 Test Caps for the Silver Ferns, will miss the Gold Coast event on advice from the medical team and has been replaced by mid-courter Claire Kersten.

New Zealand Netball Team coach Janine Southby said it was a major blow for both Cullen and the team which departs for Australia Friday.

“We’re devastated for Kayla who is an extremely competitive and passionate player within our ranks,” she said.  “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.”

Southby said it was important to the Silver Ferns to have Cullen fully fit with next year’s Netball World Cup in England a key event.

“It’s difficult because this is also about player welfare and having Kayla looking further ahead with a major tournament next year.”

The medical team will now be working with Cullen over the coming days to determine the best course of action to ensure Kayla is back on court as quickly as possible.

It is not the first time the 26-year-old has been ruled out of a major Netball event having missed the Netball World Youth Cup in 2013, due to a ACL knee injury, which saw her side-lined for 12 months.

Her strong defensive qualities, versatility and genuine athleticism meant she was back in the black dress for the Netball World Cup in Sydney in 2015.

Cullen missed much of last week’s Taini Jamison Trophy in Auckland, playing just three quarters against the Fiji Pearls.

Kersten, who plays for the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse, can cover both wing defence and centre and has played three Tests for the Silver Ferns including two appearances last week.

New Zealand opens their Commonwealth Games campaign against Uganda on April 5.