The Northern Mystics will be without the services of Silver Ferns shooter Bailey Mes for the remainder of this year's revamped ANZ Premiership due to an ongoing knee injury.
Mes injured her patella cartilage during the Nations Cup in Britain in January and has been sidelined since.
The Northern Mystics confirmed this morning Mes underwent surgery on May 1st during Level 3 Covid-19 lockdown, and has since started her rehabilitation.
However, her recovery won't be fast enough for her to be involved in the Premiership when it restarts on June 19.
Mystics head coach Helene Wilson said they were hurting for Mes.
"We were personally gutted for Bailey to hear her injury from the Nations Cup tour was season ending, but we are confident she will be back next season as strong as ever," she said.
"Every injury provides a team an opportunity to grow another player, and we are lucky enough to have a team culture that encourages and supports that philosophy.”
The Mystics have elevated 2019 Hamilton under-19 representative Asher Grapes from training partner to a fulltime member of the squad to replace Mes in the shooting circle.
The 19-year-old shooter has been offered a full contract with the Mystics for the duration of the 2020 ANZ Premiership. Grapes has already been working alongside the Mystics, having been called into the squad as a training partner earlier this year.
Mystics head coach Helene Wilson said they were pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to Grapes, who she describes as a hard trainer with a great work ethic and her elevation to the team is reward for her hard work.
"We have both Saviour Tui and Asher Grapes ready to step up and take the court, and they will have Bailey's expertise to support them which is really exciting."
The Northern Mystics finished bottom of the table last year with just four wins from their 15 games, but they beat the Northern Stars in the first round of the 2020 season in March before it was suspended due to Covid-19.