ROWAN White will be an enthusiastic onlooker when England begin their Women’s World Cup defence.

The 19-year-old harbours dreams of, one day, pulling on a Red Roses jersey at the highest level.

But for now, White can only look on as the women’s team, amidst the controversy surrounding the RFU’s decision not to renew players’ contracts after the tournament, face Spain in Ireland tomorrow.

The Great Milton teenager, who will play for Darlington Mowden Park Sharks this season, has endured a testing year in her young career, but her enthusiasm for the game has not wavered.

Despite being told she may never play again due to a concussion injury in spring 2016, White was determined not to make that a reality.

And 11 months later she made her England Under 20s debut in a friendly against France in March.

“It was a tough 12 months,” said White, who previously played for Oxford Harlequins and Wallingford.

“I have had quite a few injuries, so there’s been a lot of time working off the pitch rather than on it, but it’s so good to be back.

“It started with concussion back in April last year and I had a bit of a shock as I was initially told never to play again.

“I was not having any of that, so I went to the doctor at the RFU and she said ‘you need to take a few months off, but you will play again’.

“I sorted out an old injury I had which was a broken bone in my foot and I finally got back in January.”

White had been selected for England Under 20 trials in the past, but, because of her injury, missed out on another chance to showcase her skills in front of the national coaches.

However, regular contact led to her still being involved and she went on to feature as a replacement in the 27-12 defeat by France at the Stade Guy Boniface, Mont-de-Marsan, in March.

White said: “Playing against France was unbelievable, really unbelievable – the crowd was something else.

“It’s hard to describe.

“It was surreal, you don’t really appreciate it until after the game, but it was a completely different world.”

White, who works as a medical secretary at the Manor Hospital, Headington, starts a natural sciences degree at Durham University in October.

The plan, though, is to keep progressing on the pitch and eventually have a shot at breaking into the senior England set-up.

She said: “For a player, that is the big goal.

“You are in the under 20s because you want to be where the senior girls are – winning grand slams and world cups.

“But there’s no denying, with the game going professional, the amount of hard work it takes to get there – and you’re under no illusions it’s a massive step up.”