Rory Ready For Higgins Re-Match

For the second time in 2011  in one of snooker’s major tournaments, Rory McLeod has won through to a clash with reigning world champion John Higgins with a 6-2 victory against Barry Hawkins in Gloucester during qualification for the UK Championship. Click below for Rory’s post-match reaction…

At the age of 40 it is often the case that a snooker player is heading into the twilight of their career but in the case of Wellingborough’s Rory McLeod he is in the throes of arguably the most impressive spell of his time as a professional to date. Most notably Rory made it to the last 16 stage of a ranking tournament for the first time on the biggest stage of all at the Crucible with victory against Ricky Walden earlier this year in the World Championship, but he has also notched up a career high ranking of 34 as well as having made his first competitive 147 break in Prague last year.

Last week Rory made it through to the venue stage of the UK Championship for the fourth successive season with victory against Adam Duffy in what was a marathon match in Gloucester, before he successfully dispatched Barry Hawkins in double quick time with a 6-2 win.

“I cued well, I was always in the lead which is another good thing. I was fortunate two frames where I have had a fluke and cleared up. There was a frame where he had fluked a snooker and cleared up so it was a little bit of cashback. 2-1 to me!”

Rory also explained that he has recently started to work with SightRight coach Steve Feeney, who is also currently working with the likes of Stuart Bingham, Mark Davis, Barry Pinches and Tom Ford.

“I am doing some work with Steve Feeney. I felt better out there today. It is early days yet but I am enjoying working with him.”

Rory during his 6-2 victory over Barry Hawkins in Gloucester

Rory’s reward is a re-match in York with Scotland’s John Higgins who of course he has met already this year at the World Championship. There he gave the eventual champion a scare before Higgins eventually ran out a 13-7 winner.

“I have met him before haven’t I? (smiles) Maybe they can mess up the draw, maybe they have done it wrong! I’ve played him before, I know what I have got to do.”

“I have [played in York before]. Neil Robertson beat me 9-8, Tony Drago beat me 9-8 and Stuart Bingham beat me 9-8 so I am looking for a result in my favour this time!”

While things are going well for Rory on the table at the moment, it has also been an interesting time for him off it as having spent a significant amount of time in Qatar previously, he has recently relocated to Leicester, the home of a number of current snooker professionals.

“The family are all settled down and the kids love it so it’s good. I have not practised yet [with Mark Selby] but I will do, definitely. He’s a good player is Mark. I have played Ben [Woollaston] a little bit and will be playing Tom [Ford] as well. There are a few of us there.”

Whether he can topple Higgins on the big stage remains to be seen but currently lying inside the top 32 provisionally, with the next seedings revision set to come after PTC12 in January, Rory will be hoping to continue to scale new heights in 2012. As he explained to me however, his target for the rest of the campaign is a simple one:-

“I just hope that I will do the right thing at the right time.”