Gerwyn Price insists he’s still ‘the man’ as he prepares to return to competitive action for the first time in almost three months at next week’s Super Series in Milton Keynes.
The world champion has not featured since losing to Peter Wright in the final of Players Championship Eight on March 19, but the Welshman is raring to go following his 86-day hiatus.
‘The Iceman’ was ruled out of this year’s Premier League after returning a positive Covid test ahead of the opening night, and he was replaced in the field by UK Open champion James Wade.
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Price was also unable to compete in April’s Super Series in Germany, which capped off an incredibly frustrating period for the world No 1.
‘It has been very frustrating’
“I was upset. I’ve lost three months of playing and playing against top players and having that match practice,” Price told reporters in a zoom call on Wednesday.
“I have been stripped of that opportunity but there’s nothing that could be done, I had to move on and that is behind me now.”
Despite Price’s absence, the Premier League Darts title still headed to Wales, after Masters champion Jonny Clayton continued his blistering start to 2021 by claiming the £250,000 top prize on debut.
The pair guided Wales to their first World Cup of Darts crown in November, and now they are in possession of arguably the two most coveted titles in the sport.
“Fair play to Jonny [Clayton] for picking up the trophy, he has done really well. Darts is in a good place in Wales at the moment. I just wish I could have had a chance at playing in that Premier League,” Price admitted.
“I love Jonny to bits. He is a great bloke, and if I’m not winning, he’s probably the next best person I want to win.”
The elongated break has also given Price the chance to continue his side-line of buying and renovating local properties – a distraction he has been grateful for.
“It has been very frustrating, sitting on the sidelines watching everybody else play and not being able to be involved.
“I am lucky that I have had other things that I have been able to do, otherwise the last three months – to be sat in the house doing nothing – I would have gone stir crazy.”
‘I’m sure I will come out flying’
“I’ve been practising really well in my kitchen, but you don’t win tournaments or majors from your kitchen. You need to do it on the main stage, on the Pro Tour.”
Price raring to go…
Price’s unwavering belief has been the catalyst for his remarkable ascension from Rugby League star to PDC world champion, yet the 36-year-old concedes there will be some nerves when he returns to action at the Marshall Arena on Monday.
“I’m a little bit anxious; I am not sure how well I’m going to play in a match, but I’m practising really well, I’m hitting more trebles now than I’ve ever hit. It is all about that pressure of playing against someone who can play just as well as you,” he continued.
“It is all good and well throwing trebles for fun and hitting everything, but when someone is doing it against you, that is when it matters so the first one or two games are going to be tense for me, but I’m sure I will come out flying.
“I’m always determined, I’m always hungry to win tournaments. I can never be more determined than I am right through the season, so for me to say I’m more determined now would be wrong, because I’m always in that frame of mind anyway.”
The two-time Grand Slam champion is a player that thrives on adrenaline generated by a capacity crowd, and in the early stages of last year’s lockdown, he spoke candidly about struggling with the sterile behind-closed-doors environments.
However, he enjoyed arguably the most prolific spell of his career during this period, scooping titles at the World Series Finals, World Grand Prix, the World Cup, before lifting the sport’s holy grail on January 3 at Alexandra Palace.
Despite this, he is already relishing the prospect of being introduced as the reigning champion of the world by master of ceremonies John McDonald at next month’s World Matchplay.
“It will be nice obviously. It will be nice just to be playing, not just to hear the crowd, but get back on that stage, get some darts in my hand and hopefully start playing well.
“I don’t care if I get boos. As long as I’m up on that stage playing and the crowd are there, the atmosphere is there, that’s all I’m looking forward to. I’ve had boos as good as the worst of them, so I’ll deal with it again!”
The Iceman insists he’s still the main man
Since last March’s UK Open, major tournaments have been shared around the world’s top 16. There have been eight different televised winners crowned, and the monopoly once enjoyed by Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen has become a distant memory.
Nevertheless, no player has won more televised titles than Price during this period, and when asked who the current top dog in world darts was, his response was emphatic.
“Me, I’m the man. I’m the world No 1, I’m world champ. I haven’t played for three months.
“People can win tournaments without the world champion in it. Jonny is a fantastic player but I believe if I was in there [Premier League], I would have won it.”
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Throughout the interview, Price stressed that the disappointment of missing out on the Premier League was behind him now, and it’s that mentality that has been integral to his recent success.
There will be plenty of eyes on the Welshman in Milton Keynes next week, but he’ll return refreshed, re-energised and reinvigorated – a fearsome proposition for the rest of world darts.
“I’ve been practising really well in my kitchen, but you don’t win tournaments or majors from your kitchen. You need to do it on the main stage, on the Pro Tour…I am sure I will hit the ground running.”
Darts is back on your Sky Sports screens in July, with nine days of coverage from the iconic Winter Gardens and the World Matchplay – the action gets underway on Saturday July 17
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