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White looks to step up

New Zealand's Rosie White in last year's clash with Thailand. Image: OFC via Phototek

New Zealand Football Ferns forward Rosie White has grown up in international football and wants to take another step forward in her development starting this week at the Cyprus Cup.

The 23-year-old, who has played 84 internationals and scored 14 goals since making her debut in 2009 as a 15-year-old, said it was nice to be back in the Ferns environment for the first time since the Rio Olympics as the team refocuses for the next campaign.

White, who is known as “Bambi” to her team-mates, feels she is at the stage of her career where she can lead by example.

“I feel like I have gone from being the baby in this team to one of the more experienced,” she said.

“A lot of the girls in this team have been around for a long time now. I like the role of being a bit older and more experienced. I feel comfortable in that position in the team. It is good that we have got to the stage where we have a lot of leaders on the team which is important so I will try to embrace that role.”

In December, White led by example when she was one of the standout performers in the New Zealand A series win over Thailand. She scored a goal in each of the matches and wants to carry that form for World No 19 Ferns.

White, who recently signed for the Boston Breakers in the NWSL in the USA, said the team learned a huge amount from their Rio Olympics campaign where they competed well with World No 1 USA and World No 3 France but did not progress out of their group.

“It doesn’t matter who you get in your pool you always have to be able to perform against top-10 teams,” she said.

“We came away from Rio realising that we weren’t good enough on the day to beat the best team in the world and the third best team. To win medals you have to be able to beat the best teams in the world.”

White said the challenge for New Zealand is to develop consistency against world-class opposition.

“I have been around this team for a long time. I have seen the potential that we have had and how far we have come but I also see the room for improvement that we have as well. Over the past eight years we have achieved some massive milestones and the next four years it is important for us to take that next step.”

The Ferns have not had long together to prepare for their opener against Scotland on Thursday, they have had one training session as a full squad in Cyprus but they will not be making excuses.

“We are used to having short periods of time to get ready for an international. All of the strategies and tactics have been nutted out for us so it is our responsibility to know our jobs and use the experience within the group to get the result.”

World No 21 Scotland recently qualified for the Euro Championship in 2017 – their first major championship – and will be looking to use the Cyprus Cup to peak for that tournament.

“They have got a lot of really talented players,” White said.

“They are a team that we want to beat. They have got a lot of strengths that will challenge us and hopefully we can play our game and win.”

It is the start of a new era for the Football Ferns and White wants to be right in the thick of it.

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