Rising star Judd Trump has declared that snooker is no longer reliant on Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The sport is enjoying a renaissance not seen since the 1980s thanks to chief Barry Hearn introducing new sponsorship and tournaments, yet some critics still believe three-time world champion O’Sullivan is vital for its continued growth. Those looking to place a snooker bet may agree.
But Trump, recently-crowned UK champion, said: “I have wanted to be the next Ronnie O’Sullivan since I was eight. When I was younger, playing Ronnie would’ve brought the most pressure. Not anymore. The game doesn’t need Ronnie.
“The game can cope without him. There are a lot of top players coming through. Within the next couple of years, there’ll be someone to take over from him.
“He’s always talking about quitting the game so I don’t think he enjoys it as much as I do. But I still think he’s got a hunger and I think he’ll still be around for a long time.”
After coming close to toppling John Higgins in the 2011 World Championship final, the 22-year-old from Bristol has stormed up the rankings to number five and in December overcame Mark Allen to win the UK Championship – his first major trophy.
The player known as ‘The Ace’ has played O’Sullivan this year in two Players Tour Championship (PTC) events and in the Premier League.
Most recently, Trump secured a stunning victory over his former idol 6-5 to bag a quarter-final sport at the UK Championship and admitted: “It wasn’t pretty, but I’m just relieved. Normally if you play like that against Ronnie you’re going to get beaten.”