Ronnie O'Sullivan on 'weird' lack of snooker talent: 'Where's the next Judd Trump?'

October 18, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️  

Hong Kong Masters 2022
Ronnie O’Sullivan cannot see a young player he considers to be a nailed on future world champion (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan does not see young talent in snooker now that can compare to when he was breaking into the game, and the current world champion can’t understand why young players aren’t knocking the old guard off their perch.

The world champ and world number one is 46 years old, while his fellow Class of 92 members, John Higgins and Mark Williams, are 47 and both still in the world’s top eight.

Only two of the current top 16 are under the age of 30 – Chinese stars Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao – and O’Sullivan is struggling to see where the future world champions are in the game.

The sport has changed hugely over the last 30 years, with players under 25 enjoying very little success and some over 40 winning still winning tournaments, which was not the case in the 1990s when O’Sullivan turned pro and he can’t get his head round why it has happened.

‘I’m really surprised that we haven’t got much better young players. I think the last really exceptional player to come through was Judd Trump,’ O’Sullivan said on Eurosport.

‘We’re always looking for new players. Is Jackson Page going to do it? Is Aaron Hill going to be that player? Luca Brecel? They kind of hit a point and don’t really push on.

‘Zhao Xintong is the only one but he’s still unproven. He’s 25, he’s not a baby anymore, I know he won the UK [Championship] and the German [Masters], but look at Stephen Hendry’s CV by then, he’d be on three or four world titles.’

O’Sullivan was speaking before Higgins took on 21-year-old Jackson Page at the Northern Ireland Open, a game which the veteran went on to win 4-3 after a superb contest.

While the Class of 92 are simply three of the greatest players to ever play snooker, O’Sullivan still thinks rising stars should be able to beat them more regularly than they are.

‘We’re nearly 50! Is the age thing different? I don’t know, I can’t work it out, at 32-33 Hendry and Steve Davis were finished winning. It’s weird how it’s going,’ said the Rocket.

‘It’s good for us, but it’s a hard one to work out. Jackson’s played the best game he’s ever played there and still can’t beat John Higgins.

Hong Kong Masters 2022
John Higgins feels it is much harder now for young players to make an impact on the game (Picture: Getty Images)

‘That’s not a criticism of Jackson. You’re just always thinking, where’s the next Judd Trump? He was the last player where you’re thinking, it’s in his own hands to win tournaments because he’s got that strong of a game.

‘Is there anyone else coming through? I don’t see one. When you saw John come along at 17 you knew he’d be world champion, Mark Williams as well. I haven’t seen one.’

Higgins has more sympathy for the young players trying to make it to the top of the game, believing the veterans that he and Ronnie were facing 30 years ago were not the calibre of foe that he and Ronnie are for youngsters now.

‘I think it’s harder for these younger guys coming through because they’ve got yourself, myself, Mark Williams. We should be finished, it’s hard for them to come through,’ Higgins told O’Sullivan.

‘When we were coming through we were playing 48-year-olds and knocking them over pretty easily, so it’s tough for these guys.

‘Would we have been world champion playing the likes of us? It’s difficult, just a difficult sport, so many good players.’

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