The Queensland Firebirds have admitted they "misread community expectations" by not playing Jemma Mi Mi in Super Netball's Indigenous round.
Mi Mi was not given any game time in the Firebirds' match against Melbourne Vixens on Sunday in Cairns despite being the competition's only Indigenous player.
The club was lashed on social media for not playing midcourter Mi Mi, who has been with the club since 2017.
Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke said player performance and the team's determination to bank another win after finishing last in 2019 was behind her decision, which resulted in an upset victory over the minor premiers.
But the veteran coach admitted the player's failure to appear was not in line with expectations after using Mi Mi to promote the round.
"The decision not to put Jemma on the court was the right one from a game-strategy perspective, however we misread community expectations and the significance of Jemma's court time in the game in this round," Jencke said in a statement.
"Jemma has and continues to develop our cultural awareness and has shared with her teammates her own cultural journey as a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman.
"We are very proud that Jemma is a Firebird."
Jencke said team selection came from wanting to deliver for fans in the first Super Netball game to be played in the Far North Queensland city.
"This weekend's Indigenous round in Cairns was an opportunity to connect with fans that don't usually have the chance to see us live," she said.
"As a team, our players want to do their best for members and fans.
"Our team selection for Sunday's game was part of our strategy for the season and was made collectively by the coaches and the leadership group based on performance."