Neil Robertson: I agree with Ronnie O’Sullivan, young players don’t work hard enough

Neil Robertson feels Ronnie O’Sullivan was right to criticise young players (Picture: Getty Images)

Neil Robertson feels young players in snooker, specifically in the UK, need to work much harder at the game and has backed Ronnie O’Sullivan in trying to cajole them into action.

Robertson is referring to O’Sullivan’s comments from the World Championship last year when the Rocket said he would have to ‘lose an arm and a leg’ to fall out of the world’s top 50, so bad are the players emerging in the game.

Unsurprisingly these comments ruffled feathers but there have been positives to emerge from Ronnie’s scathing assessment of his competitors.

Jordan Brown came from nowhere to win the Welsh Open last week as a 750/1 shot, beating Mark Selby, Stephen Maguire and then O’Sullivan in the final.

The Northern Irishman began that event ranked #81 in the world and said that O’Sullivan’s comments had riled him up and spurred him on to victory in Newport.

Ronnie, despite tasting defeat at Celtic Manor, was pleased that his words had made an impact on Brown and Robertson has echoed the sentiments of the world champion.

The Australian believes there is much more work to be done by the young players in the game and if the senior players need to deliver some home truths then so be it.

‘Ronnie made comments about not producing or not reaching the standard that they should be…and by the way Ronnie would be so happy for people like Jordan, Jordan said those comments fired him up to practice more and work harder, that will make Ronnie really happy,’ Robertson said at this week’s Players Championship.

Ronnie O’Sullivan congratulated Jordan Brown after a 9-8 loss to the Northern Irishman (Picture: Zheng Zhai)

‘I’m in the same boat as Ronnie where I don’t think the players lower down the rankings are practicing hard enough, especially the younger ones from the UK.

‘A lot of tournaments they’re sort of partying, not putting in the hard work, all the time on Instagram checking their followers. You can’t be a top sportsman and do all that stuff, you have to put in the hard work.

‘Either that would have upset a lot of low-ranked players, they’d have gone into their shell and thought, “oh Ronnie’s saying all this” or they could go, “you know what, he’s right, I can work harder so I’m going to work harder.”

‘Ronnie wants to see all the lower-ranked players reach their potential as players, so what he did was good, I felt.

‘We wouldn’t have had the Jordan Brown story if Ronnie hadn’t said what he said, I’m almost convinced of that. Jordan was someone who maybe…I don’t like the tag, but a journeyman tag, I suppose, but he’s changed it.

‘He’s worked harder, got a coach, practiced with Mark Allen and what you’re going to get now is a lot more lower-ranked guys believing they can beat top players.

‘I’m really happy for Jordan, he’s so nice. Hopefully we can start seeing more of the younger players coming through from the UK.’

Robertson made a similar statement at the Masters in January when he was beaten by Yan Bingtao, who went on to win the event.

The Thunder from Down Under feels that the Chinese sensation, who turned 21 this month, is a perfect example for young UK players and how they should go about developing their careers.

‘Yan is 20 years old but seems to have the experience of someone who’s 40,’ Robertson said in January.

Yan Bingtao claimed the Masters title in January (Picture WST)

‘I can’t praise him highly enough. He’s got all the attributes, the hunger, the determination to try to win these events and that’s really good to see from a young player.

‘You see a lot of them are on social media non-stop, they care more about how they look coming out of swimming pool than what they do on a snooker table. So you’ve got to credit the guys who want to make things happen in their career.’

Robertson added this week: ‘Yan Bingtao works harder than anyone at the game, absolutely 100% and there you go, he won the Masters.’

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