Ronnie O’Sullivan has devised a plan for avoiding more disciplinary hot water when frustrated at the table – slapping his own backside.
The Rocket starts his bid for a record eighth World Championship title on Saturday morning at the Crucible as he takes on Chinese prospect Pang Junxu in Sheffield.
The world No1 equalled Stephen Hendry’s tally last year with an emotional 18-13 final win against fierce rival Judd Trump that saw him in a prolonged embrace with his beaten opponent.
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But earlier in the blue-riband tournament O’Sullivan got into trouble for making a lewd gesture in his first-wound win over David Gilbert.
That was along with another incident from last season’s UK Championship, that earned O’Sullivan, widely seen as the greatest of all time and the winner of 39 ranking titles, a £4,000 fine.
The incident at the Crucible 12 months ago was highlighted at the time by fellow pro Matt Selt on Instagram.
And O’Sullivan said: “I got snitched up by some player. I got snitched up. I got well snitched up! But it won’t stop me showing emotion after a bad shot.
“No, I have a new one now. I’ll slap my bum. I’ll slap my bum really hard. Because obviously out there, your emotions get high, sometimes you have to let it out.
“If another player is going to film it and put it on social media, then ring up World Snooker constantly trying to find out: ‘Are you going to fine him?’…then obviously you have got 128 policeman watching me.
“Now, I just slap my bum really hard. That’s my thing. When you see me slapping my arse, you know I am really pissed off. My arse is going to be sore by the end of Sheffield.”
O’Sullivan will turn 48 later this year – and despite his continued brilliance, is feeling his age.
He added: “I suppose what has changed over the years is that I am old enough to be most players’ dad these days. I was a kid when I first came here – so it makes you feel old, and it’s a bit scary.
“Having the record for most Crucible appearances is quite an achievement, that’s 31 now – I have been around a long time, though I’m not sure that’s a good thing! But I still get the butterflies.
“Everyone feels it walking down there. It’s the Crucible, it’s intimate, it’s the first match – and you can very easily lose your first match, as I have before.
“If I had just been coming here for 30 years and not won, I don’t know how I would have felt. Getting the wins and results is the important thing. Even some losses are great moments.
“I don’t like to put a number on how many I can get. Why eight? It could be seven, eight, or nine, or ten. Who knows? I could defy the odds. I have always strived to reach this or reach that – now it’s ridiculous putting a number on it.
“It was exhausting last year, the Crucible tired me out and that was after mostly easy matches. The early wins, I felt fresh as a daisy. The last two took a much greater toll.
“I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing. You never lose your memories, and it was great to experience that last year winning the seventh.
“There was emotion but that was more relief. I’m a bit of an old man now, it gets harder as you get older. For boxers it is physical, for us more mental. You get tired, and it gets tougher.
“But last year is done now, I have to move on and create new memories. I always care, but I have a good perspective on life.
“I have got my cue fixed, had an injury and not made the cut for the Players and Tour Championships so I have had a lot of time at home really – which has been nice.
“My elbow is okay, nice – good enough to play snooker anyway, maybe not box or go to the gym. And so I think I have got to try and win easy.
“If I go too tough in matches it will catch up with me and I probably won’t win. But if I can be efficient and play all right, it takes a lot less out of you.
“I do a lot of pilates and stay in a good place, and stay in a good place. There is no point getting wound up.
“There are players who have lost weight over the past year, but did they train? Anyone that had an operation is kind of cheating, I don’t class that as getting fit.
“I have been in a good mental place the whole of my life – I am a survivor, I just get through. I might look down, but there is a resilience there for the last 30 years. It comes out when I am down.”
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