Ongoing ankle problems have ruled Australian netball captain Natalie von Bertouch out of Thursday’s quad series match against South Africa in Wellington.
Von Bertouch rolled an ankle going for an intercept in Sunday’s 68-48 thumping of New Zealand in Sydney, her third ankle injury inside a year.
She was kept back for scans and assessment, but was given the all-clear on Tuesday to join the Diamonds for the second leg of the quad series in New Zealand with the Silver Ferns, South Africa and England.
However, after von Bertouch completed a light training session on Wednesday, it was decided not to risk her for the South African match.
Australian coach Lisa Alexander says it is an injury management decision.
‘‘We just can’t take that risk with her ankle, knowing that there are games still to come which she needs to back up for,’’ Alexander said.
As well as battling ankle problems, von Bertouch also lost valuable court time with a fractured finger which needed surgery.
‘‘It just takes its toll - you’re playing at international level and, if you’re five per cent off your game, it shows,’’ the 29-year-old midcourter said.
‘‘Injuries really do impact on your form.’’
Von Bertouch will be assessed again ahead of the Diamonds’ match against England in Tauranga on Sunday, with next week’s quad series closer against New Zealand in Hamilton the priority.
Australia are also missing midcourter Kim Greene, ruled out of the rest of the series with a recurring foot injury.
The Diamonds accounted for South Africa 63-31 in Newcastle a week ago, but Alexander believes there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
‘‘Scoring off centre passes and turnovers is not high enough, so we really need to make sure that that is taken care of and also making sure that we bring our intensity to the first quarter,’’ she said.
Test veteran Catherine Cox will captain Australia in von Bertouch’s place, the eighth time she has led the Diamonds.
Australia: Caitlin Bassett, Erin Bell, Madison Browne, Rebecca Bulley, Bianca Chatfield, Catherine Cox (capt), Renae Hallinan, Mo’onia Gerrard, Chanel Gomes, Chelsea Pitman, Susan Pratley, Caitlin Thwaites.