Silver Ferns v England: Coach Dame Noeline Taurua hungry for world-ranking points against Roses

They may be reigning world netball champions, but the Silver Ferns have their sights set on the No.1 world ranking, as they prepare to face England in Hamilton this week.

Despite their World Cup triumph at Liverpool last year, New Zealand languish in second on the global list, behind trans-Tasman rivals Australia, whom they beat in the tournament final.

While teams often admit to only passing interest in world standings, the lure of ranking points is obviously a major focus for NZ coach Dame Noeline Taurua, as she prepares her team for the Roses, starting Wednesday.

"Very much so," admits Taurua. "It's hard to get some points on the old scoreboard, noting that these three games are towards world rankings.

"We're currently sitting at No.2, we've got a bit to go to get to No.1 and obviously England are chipping at our heels.

"The beauty of that is we can't rest on our laurels - there's points up for grabs and we have to make sure we get them."

With COVID-19 limiting international competition across most sports, ranking points are at even more of a premium than usual.

Australia's dominance over New Zealand in Constellation Cup play has been a staple of their top billing, but that series has been cancelled this year, leaving the Diamonds without any confirmed fixtures for 12 months.

Newshub understands England are currently discussing a flying visit on the way home from New Zealand, which may throw them a ranking lifeline.

By contrast, the Ferns beat England, Jamaica (twice) and South Africa - ranked 3-5 - in January. Those results helped close the deficit to Australia on the most recent list released in July.

"Like everything, you always want to win - that's what I'm about," says Taurua. "You always want the trophy in the case, but that's not our main focus - it's making sure we do the 'mahi' underneath and don't get caught up in that stuff.

"If we do what we're supposed to do, everything else will come. That's what makes the fire burn."

Join us at 7:30pm Wednesday for the opening Silver Ferns v England Roses netball test