Simon Whitlock interview, for Darts, Beers & Cheers!

The exclusive interviews are coming in thick n fast now – thanks to all those players and officials (and walk on girls!) who have agreed to answer my questions.

To coincide with tonights start of the World Match Play, I have been very lucky to get an exclusive interview with Simon Whitlock, a real man of 2010, who is shooting up the world rankings, and is seen as one of the few players who will be competing for the number 1 spot in the next years to come.

I have to thank my friends at Red Dragon darts for making Simon available to me – Whitlock of course throws Red Dragon darts (get em here).  Good luck to Simon, who will be starting his 1st round game in Blackpool against Tony Eccles on Monday (approx 8pm).

Q.  How are you finding life in the UK now you’re living and playing darts here?

It’s a little bit colder which is nice, I’ve always loved coming over to the UK to stay and play darts as UK dart players are more aware of the professional game, and everywhere you go people are mad to play.

Q. How does the pro tour compare between the UK and Australia?  Is there a different atmosphere or attitude between players?

In Australia we have to travel much further distances to events so all of the players on tour tend to be a bit more regional as opposed to the top guys who make every event.  The guys who travel to every event tend to be quite close, as we share the same travel pains!!

Q.  A lot was made of your foot/heel injury just before your start in the premier league – how is that now, and how much did it actually affect you (all we have to go by is the Sky commentators)

I hurt my heel whilst back in Oz and its been a real bind to be honest and has taken longer than I thought to get over. To be honest it’s been like a dull toothache that you know is there and always just twinges, so it did affect me. I’m happy it’s much better now.

Q.  What I’ve noticed this year is that most of the time your doubles have been awesome – is it true you only practice doubles?  What is a typical practice routine for you?

That would be telling!! In my practice I try to replicate game intensity and situations so that that I can be ready for them in games. I don’t practice solely on doubles, right now I’m in a Champions Choice phase at the moment as the reduced doubles and trebles are so hard to hit, they really frustrate you.

I see doubles as just another section on the dartboard and try not to attach too much importance to them as it can paralyse your throw.

I do work with different sets of my darts so that I don’t get attached to one set, but too be fair my darts are all made exactly the same anyway.

Q.  The darts crowds seem to have warmed to you very quickly since joining the PDC – has that surprised you, especially as our countries are normally locked in sporting competition?

Ha Ha yes a little, but I’ve played darts in the UK for many years so maybe a few of the crowd know me from before.

It’s a real honour for me that so many of the UK darts crowd like my game and get behind me, and it genuinely means a lot to me and I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s cheered me on.

Q.  You obviously had some success in the BDO and have been playing for years, but have you been surprised how quickly things have happened for you in the PDC?  (world final, sponsorships, prem league play offs, floor event wins etc).  Have you had time since the worlds to take it all in?   Has it surprised you – or is it all part of a plan you’ve been working too?

I’d like to say that it was part of my plan, but it wasn’t I’m afraid. I don’t set a clear plan in terms of winning this event, or that event I just prepare myself as well as I can for the event I’m going to play in. If I get cluttered up in saying I need a top 16 to make the next TV event I find it get in the way of playing my best darts.

I’m really happy how things have gone since leaving the BDO, I know that it’s contentious to say about standards of darts etc but there are still loads of tough games in the BDO, and it was great preparation for what I’m facing now.

What really helped me is learning to win games no matter what the event it is, even if it’s you and a few of the boys on a Friday night chucking in a few bucks.

Q.  You come across as fairly quiet and introverted (in fact an atypical aussie) – is that fair, or is it just how you like to portray yourself in the darts arena?

Er, what’s introverted!! If you mean laid back and happy then yeah I guess I am but I’m not that quiet.

Q.  Are there any players on the PDC tour who you would say are your mates?  Do you think the other players have welcomed you as much as the fans seem to have?

I’m close with James Wade, Mark Webster and Merv King, but all the players have been great to me which is really nice and I’ve met so many characters on tour.

Q. You’ve shot up the rankings – have you set yourself a target?   Do you feel (like many fans do) that you will be one of a select few pros who will be there challenging for Phil Taylors crown in the coming years?

Nah I haven’t, I take every event as it comes and I work hard so that I believe I can win every game. I’ll leave the speculation to you guys.

Q. Based on the way things are going, can you see yourself living in the UK for some time to come?

Definitely, I’m going to buy a place over here when I’ve got everything sorted.

It’s really hard juggling my home life with the demands of travelling on tour but luckily I’ve got some great help behind me now and it makes all the difference.

Q.  What are you interests outside of darts – and is there anything specific you miss having moved to the UK, and anything that you’ve been pleasantly surprised at?

Fishing, I love fishing and I do miss the odd early morning beach cast.

I’m surprised how many people come up to me in the street, at airports etc and say hello and good luck – it’s great I love it!!

Great stuff from Simon there – he comes across in the interview just as he does watching him on TV, very laid back and easy going.  Next time I see him on the pro tour I’ll say hello properly, rather than just grinning like a loon as I did back in Wigan when sitting on his table

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