Thunderbirds lose young gun for rest of season

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The ANZ Championship season may only be a fortnight old, but the Adelaide Thunderbirds are already searching for a third replacement player following a season-ending knee injury to young shooter Cody Lange.

The Thunderbirds worst fears were confirmed when scans revealed the 21-year-old requires a reconstruction of her right knee after rupturing her ACL – and also damaged her lateral meniscus – in their Round 2 loss to the Melbourne Vixens.

Lange landed awkwardly in the second term and teammates – and Vixens medical staff – rushed to her aid after she collapsed in pain. She will have surgery later this week.

Adelaide coach Michelle den Dekker said everyone involved with the Thunderbirds was devastated for Lange and has rallied around her while she faces the prospect of a season on the sidelines.

“Cody was one of our best performing players in Round 1 (against West Coast Fever) and is a much loved member of the team,” den Dekker said.

“We will be supporting her every step of the way in her rehabilitation and I look forward to Cody returning even fitter and stronger next season.

“It was really distressing for everyone in the stadium to see Cody in so much pain and I know that the whole netball community is behind her as she undergoes surgery.

“The scans have shown that it is an isolated ACL injury which is a positive. So we are confident the surgery will be straightforward.

“Our medical team, in consultation with the surgeon are working on a timeline of having her fit and ready for Round 1 of the 2017 ANZ Championship season.”

The Thunderbirds have already been forced to replace Renae Ingles (pregnant) and defender Amy Steel (illness) to start the season.

Lange has been with the Thunderbirds since 2011 and was part of Australia’s 21/U World Youth Cup team in 2013.

Promising young shooter Kristina Brice, who has moved from New South Wales to South Australia to be a training partner with the Thunderbirds, is one option den Dekker is considering as Lange’s replacement.

“We will be looking at multiple options – including Kristina – and a replacement player will be announced later in the week,” den Dekker said.

“It is very unsettling for the team to now be faced with its third replacement player this season and we are doing everything possible to refocus quickly in preparation for Sunday’s game against the (NSW) Swifts.”