O'Sullivan is defending his title in Coventry this week after beating Kyren Wilson in the final last year.
White meanwhile did not play in the 2018 edition of the tournament but qualified this time around by virtue of his victory at the World Seniors Championship in August.
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The draw appeared to have been unkind to the 57-year-old when his name was put up next to the No 1 seed and five-time world champion.
But White, a six-time world finalist between 1984 and 1994 ranked as high as No 2 in the world in his heyday, is in fact relishing the chance to take on O'Sullivan in a competitive environment.
Jimmy White and Ronnie O'Sullivan
Image credit: Eurosport
“You never know how many more of these really big occasions against Ronnie there could be in a major tournament," White said.
“I am lucky I get to play him in exhibitions - but this is different. This is the big time again, and why I still practice. To be able to enjoy and absorb that atmosphere.
“I always fancied I would be drawn against Ronnie, it just seemed like fate might take a hand."
White and O'Sullivan have met on the baize 45 times with the older player winning just 10 of those encounters.
When the pressure is on, his record against O'Sullivan is even worse - at ranking events, White has only beaten 'The Rocket' once in 12 attempts, and that was 19 years ago at the Welsh Open.
But White remains a keen admirer of the man he has watched grow up on tour.
Jimmy White presents Ronnie O'Sullivan with the Masters trophy after victory in the 2016 final.
Image credit: Reuters
“I was watching the video of my ‘This Is Your Life’ the other day with some people. And I spotted Ronnie on the stage at 17 maybe, I had forgotten he was there," White added.
“That was a nice memory. I have always been his biggest fan, but he knows I will be really trying to win on Thursday.
“I remember vividly him beating me 5-1 in Blackpool just after he turned pro. I said to my driver on the way home ‘That is an absolute breath of fresh air for snooker’.
“We earned any fans with the way we play. And I hope there will be a few mums and dads telling their kids ‘Jimmy White can play a bit too – Ronnie’s no certainty’!
“I hope I helped Ronnie. I know sometimes I played to the crowd, and it did cost me. I told him at an early age that to win you can’t always do that.
“But he has a naturally crowd-pleasing style anyway, allied to a real will to win that isn’t always highlighted.”
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