Launceston Tornadoes will be without inspirational captain Lauren Mansfield for three games but say they are delighted she will be back for the club’s finals campaign.
The 27-year-old point guard will play her 100th SEABL game against Hobart at home on Saturday before joining the Opals for their FIBA Asian Cup campaign.
She will miss the home fixture with Canberra as well as away games to Bendigo and Ballarat but return for the final roster match of the campaign at Dandenong.
The Torns had investigated signing a replacement to cover for Mansfield’s absence but were prevented by SEABL rules.
Mansfield and Tayla Roberts are the club’s category B players for the season with Lauren Nicholson designated a category C and the competition prevents like-for-like replacements except in the case of long-term injuries.
Coach Richard Dickel said Mansfield’s absence created opportunities for other squad players.
“In some ways it’s good because it gives everyone else a good run leading into playoffs and obviously we’re ecstatic for her making the Opals, it’s massive for her and she’s got the club’s total support,” he said.
After two weeks training with the Opals squad in Phoenix, Arizona, Mansfield returned to lead the Torns to a win against Kilsyth last week.
“She is a strong leader on the court and makes everyone play better when she is out there,” Dickel said.
“It’s not just about how many points she scores, it’s the rebounds, the assists and steals, and how she bring other players into the game. It was certainly good to have her back.”