ALAN McMANUS admits that practising with Anthony McGill, currently Scotland’s brightest young hope to win major titles, has helped him rediscover his enthusiasm for the sport.
The 43-year-old McManus, whose greatest triumphs came in the mid-1990s, has shown some much-improved form in the past two years after falling out of the top 50.
Former Masters and two-time ranking event winner McManus reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event at the Welsh Open, and also the final stages of the World Championships at the Crucible last year - in both cases for the first time in seven years.
And wins such as the 5-2 victory over young gun Jack Lisowski at the German Masters show that experienced Scot McManus, in his 24th year as a professional, can still mix it with the game’s hotshots.
He said: “You have to be young at heart if you are going out there up against these guys, there is no option. You can’t go out there thinking you are an old man.
“You have to try and be aggressive at the right times, mix it up a bit – I still think I can play this game a little bit.
“If you are going to spend any time in this game you are going to get scars, we all know that, so the experience of dealing with those matches and bad losses can help if you use it right.
“I see it watching the young guys now, it is about finding a balance in their approach and I have seen Judd Trump’s safety game has improved so much.
“Partly for me I am enjoying it more and maybe playing better these past couple of years through practising with people like Anthony McGill back home.
“He is a young guy and keen as mustard and I try to feed off that a little bit. When I practise with him we are in the club at 9.30am, which is a discipline – and I am disciplined in my practice.
“I get in early and I am on it, I always have and still do. However many years I have left I will kicking my own arse to get on with it, I have always been good at that, pushing myself.
“You’ve got to, no one else is going to do it for you, you are your own boss. If I arrange a game with Anthony we play at the time arranged, play for a tenner to give it something. Neither of us want to lose a tenner, so it’s a match!
“I suppose some of the young guys may not have even seen my greatest career moments in the 1990s, but I don’t think of myself in those terms I am feeling confident and playing all right.”
McManus, now also a fine commentator for ITV and Eurosport, would stand as an example to many young pros as to how to go about their business and make the most of their ability – but he is troubled about the future for Scottish and British snooker.
The world No41 identifies the likes of Michael Leslie, Scott Donaldson and Ross Muir following after McGill – but reckons it would be hard to identify young teenage prospects who look the real deal, as is currently the case in China.
McManus added: “It is a concern going forward, the conveyor belt of talent from Scotland is maybe not there as it was and the amateur game is not throwing up as many really good prospects as we would like to see.
“There are two or three players with potential in Scotland, but not enough to say now 'He will definitely be a great player' as maybe you would have for Stephen Hendry, or Ronnie O'Sullivan or more recently Judd Trump in England.
“When Judd was 14 everyone knew about him, there is nothing like that in Scotland. There are decent players but the extra quality is not there and it can be a numbers game to find them. The ones there can pot balls but not play properly. The amateur game is really struggling in Scotland.
“Just prior to the World Amateur a few months ago between the two Chinese boys, Zhou Yuelong and Zhao Xintong, I said at the start those two would be in the final. There is no one like that in Scotland, and I would say in the UK.
“We have all got our work cut out to match the Chinese efforts in producing good youngsters.”