Football: Wellington Phoenix bring Football Ferns star Emma Rolston home for A-League campaign

Wellington Phoenix have employed some creative roster management to squeeze Football Ferns star Emma Rolston onto their roster for the 2022/23 A-League season.

Rolston, 25, will return to the capital, after leaving almost a decade ago to pursue a professional career and prepare for the U20 Women's World Cup.

Originally signed with Sydney FC, she has since plied her trade in Germany and Norway, but will become the third NZ international to join the Wellington club, after Betsey Hassett and Paige Satchell.

Emma Rolston in action for the Football Ferns against New Caledonia.
Emma Rolston in action for the Football Ferns against New Caledonia. Photo credit: Photosport

"I haven't lived in Wellington for nine years, so playing for the Phoenix women's team is pretty cool," she said. "It's pretty amazing to have a professional football club in New Zealand.

"It's been a long time coming and it's great to finally have that here to give opportunities for girls coming through."

Rolston's signing was aided by the recent discovery that fullback Zoe McMeeken - one of last season's foundation players - was born in Melbourne, and eligible for the fifth and final Australian quota spot.

Last summer's inaugural A-League campaign saw the Phoenix women field a young team, coached by Gemma Lewis, entirely based across the Tasman during COVID-19.

Their second season, under new coach Natalie Lawrence, will see a more experienced roster, with several of those youngsters now elevated to the Football Ferns programme.

"It's really good to have quite a few Ferns involved in the Wellington Phoenix and lift the standard a little bit more," said Rolston.

"We've all got high standards, and we'll push the girls to win games, move up higher on the table and potentially win [the league].

"It'll be cool to have home games as well. I think that's a really big driving factor to help rally support for the girls and get in behind the team."

Lawrence consulted Football Ferns coach Jitka Klimkova over the signing, which will see Rolston pushing for World Cup inclusion close to home.

"She's a player we were missing," said Lawrence. "She can score goals, she's technical and can create a lot.

"She can play anywhere across the front-line and even as an attacking midfielder. When you're filling those last spots, if you can get players that play a number of positions, then you're winning.

"Having somebody like Rollo come in with her experience and her ability on the ball was an opportunity we didn't really want to miss."

Wellington Phoenix open their A-League campaign at home against Melbourne City on November 20.