Collingwood Magpies co-captain Madi Browne has been dealt a cruel injury blow after being ruled out for the season.
The 31-year-old had surgery on Thursday to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee for the second time after previously rupturing her ACL in 2015.
It could put a dent in the clubs title hopes as the outstanding mid-courter recovers.
The injury was sustained in a pre-season game against the Melbourne Vixens but despite intensive rehabilition, there was no improvement.
Browne was headed into her third season with the Magpies and had recently called time on her International career to concentrate on the Super Netball campaign.
Magpies coach Rob Wright said the news was "unfair" after the impressive pre-season Browne had.
“We’re really disappointed for Madi that she’ll spend an extended period of time out of the game. She has had such an impressive preseason and had been outstanding on court," he said.
"She is also a fantastic leader of our team.
“This is a case of life being unfair.
"Although she’ll be out of action on court, there is a lot of opportunity for Madi to continue to be involved with the team behind the scenes.”
Training partner Kelsie Rainbow will continue to act as Browne’s temporary replacement.
Meanwhile, NSW Swifts attacker Natalie Haythornthwaite has been ruled out of action for the next four weeks as she recovers from a hamstring injury.
Like Browne, she was also injured in a pre-season game but is responding well to treatment as she looks to get back on court soon.