The New Zealand Breakers have suffered a blow ahead of this Thursday night’s Grand Final rematch, with Corey Webster being placed on injury waiver effective immediately, meaning he will miss the game at Vector Arena.
The club has not put a time frame on a return for Webster but expect it to be medium to long term, to allow the shooting guard the time necessary to rehab a number of injuries that have been limiting his ability to perform this campaign.
Webster has battled this season with a variety of injuries, notably foot, knee, hip and back issues, all of which have limited his contributions. The congested nature of the competition this season has compounded that, with little or no time for players to rehab injuries in amongst the training, travel and playing schedule.
Head Coach Paul Henare says it is one of the toughest calls he has had to make in his coaching career.
“Corey has been battling injury throughout the season but it has become increasingly clear that he is not able to play at the level he is used to nor indeed the level that we as a team need him to be operating at.
“We have made the call to give Corey that chance to get himself fully fit, to seek out the best rehab programme available away from the pressure of playing, training and travelling. What the detail of that plan looks like we don’t know just yet, how long it takes we don’t know yet, but we felt it was time for him to step back and get himself healthy.
“Corey is one of our premier players, one of the best in the league, but even the best are human when hit with injuries in what is a world class league that is only getting stronger every week. We have made this call with the good of the team and Corey top of mind.”
Webster is understandably disappointed at the decision but has begun to accept it with a long term view in mind.
“I am just so frustrated, this has been a difficult season for me and a constant struggle to be 100% healthy, to be 100% right physically and mentally. This decision is not easy either and is hard to accept to be honest, I am a player and just want to play and contribute. But I also know that long term I have to look after my body, I have to think about the rest of my career.
“Playing through stuff now is one thing, but I have to think about the effects it might have later on in my career, as well as thinking about what is best for the team and the club right now.
“I will get my head around this and I will look to use it in a positive way. I only want the best for this team and for the club and I’m sorry I won’t be suited up on Thursday against Perth, but I know the boys can get the job done.”
As is the case with the Breakers however, they weren’t dwelling on Webster’s absence ahead of the crucial clash with the Wildcats, with Henare turning the focus to the players that will be suited up, having no doubt they are up to the task of defeating the Wildcats.
“This is not unusual, in this competition you will go through periods without key players due to injury, every team has to know how to cope and make adjustments. I have complete faith in this group to make those adjustments tomorrow night.
“We are motivated for every game and every opponent, including the Wildcats. We have established a great rivalry with them in recent years, I know it is a game that they will be up for, we will be ready to go in our last home game of the year in what should be a fun night in front of a vocal home crowd.”
The club will seek a replacement for Webster, and such are the qualities he brings to the team, that search is for an import player. The ideal timeline for such a player to come into the club is to be available for the round 12 clash in Sydney on December 30.
The team meanwhile focus on their Grand Final rematch with the Perth Wildcats on Thursday at Vector Arena and will then continue training until a four day break from December 21st, resuming training on the 26th for the game in Sydney.