Snooker’s greatest deserve wildcard chance, says O’Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan. Picture by Monique Limbos

Ronnie O’Sullivan. Picture by Monique Limbos

RONNIE O’Sullivan has said it would be a ‘crazy’ decision not to give snooker greats such as Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry a wildcard to play on the tour.

The five-times world champion spoke out after World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn revealed he was considering giving the likes of six-times world champion Davis and Jimmy White a one-off wildcard.

The wildcard tour place issue has arisen after Davis dropped off the tour last week following his World Championship Qualifier defeat to Craig Steadman.

Jimmy White, a six times World Championship finalist, could also drop off the tour depending on results at the Crucible over the coming days and seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry has recently mooted the possibility of a comeback should a wildcard be available.

A poll on our website on Friday asked readers should Davis be given a wildcard which resulted in dividing opinion with 56% voting YES and 44% voting NO.

Following his 10-4 win over Robin Hull last night, O’Sullivan said he hoped there could be a situation where the game’s greatest players were given the opportunity to play in major events.

“If I was in that position and I wanted to play, I probably wouldn’t want to go through the qualifying system,” he said.

“So to be able to come in at round one and still compete is good for Steve (Davis) because he still loves playing, he’s been a great ambassador for the game along with Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry, and I do believe they should have that opportunity to compete if they want to.

“Wherever we go with our game all over the world, to have them part of it is definitely a plus. I think it would be a crazy decision not to have them there so let’s hope they do the right thing and give some of the greatest players that have played our game the opportunity.

“It doesn’t deny anyone that’s good enough the chance to become a winner. In snooker, if you can pot balls you come through. There’s no politics involved, it’s as even as you can get, so any junior that wants to come through and is good enough will do so, no matter what the system.”

An announcement on the issue could be made on Wednesday when Hearn hosts a press conference at the Crucible.

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