Ronnie O’Sullivan has revealed he rejected a lucrative offer to appear in the “I’m a Celebrity” jungle in order to focus on his quest to claim a seventh UK Championship.
O’Sullivan celebrated his 43rd birthday in style as he stormed into the quarter-finals with a 6-1 win over Jack Lisowski in York on Wednesday.
But he could have been thousands of miles away if he had taken up the offer from ITV to become the third snooker player to appear on the reality show, after Jimmy White and Steve Davis.
O’Sullivan said: “I was invited this year but I decided to put it on the back-burner. I’m sure in time I’ll give it a go.
“Maybe they can move this tournament. I’ll come flying in like Tarzan from Australia to York with my thong on.”
O’Sullivan would have been one of the top-earning stars on this year’s series but it is a mark of his continued appetite for the sport that he prioritised chasing the £170,000 on offer to this year’s UK winner.
O’Sullivan added: “It was never about the money or I would have gone into the Jungle. I would really like to do it but (not) when you think you can still win tournaments. It was about snooker first.”
Successive hundred breaks in the fifth and sixth frames helped O’Sullivan punish Lisowski for a series of errors after the 27-year-old had won the first frame of the match.
After frequently admitting to falling out with the sport in the past, O’Sullivan has stressed his commitment to continued improvement, including working on new methods to maintain his place at the top of the sport.
“I’ve played better but my consistency is better and I’m going through a transitional period at the moment,” added O’Sullivan. “I’ve got to wait until I’m 100 per cent confident in what I’m doing.
“When I went to Sheffield last year I knew I wasn’t going to do anything. I thought, now’s the time to reinvent myself. I’m 43 today and I need to find a game that’s capable of competing with these guys.”
O’Sullivan is scheduled to return for his quarter-final match on Friday, and in the meantime insisted he will continue to keep up to date with events Down Under.
“I’ll go for a nice meal tonight and watch a bit of the Jungle,” he added: “Harry (Redknapp) and John (Barrowman) are nice, but I really like Anne (Hegerty) – she really seems to have gained some confidence.”
Stephen Maguire scored three consecutive centuries as he staged a remarkable comeback to beat reigning world champion Mark Williams 6-5.
Maguire trailed 4-0 but responded with breaks of 122, 120 and 109, later following with a 97 to edge ahead.
The Scot missed the simplest yellow to effectively wrap up victory in the 10th frame, but recovered his poise to win the decider largely due to an outrageous double on the last red.
“That’s the best comeback I’ve ever made,” said Maguire. “At the interval I told my dad to get the car ready and we could be back in Glasgow by 7.30. I just decided to pull the cue back and hope for the best.”
In the evening session, Mark Allen pulled out successive centuries to edge past two-time winner Neil Robertson 6-5 and book his place in the quarter-finals.
Allen had let slip a 3-1 lead to trail 4-3 and when he blew a 59-point lead to go 5-4 behind he seemed set for the exit.
But Allen responded with back-to-back breaks of 102 and 114 to wrap up victory in style