Ronnie O’Sullivan has gone back to basics in his bid to eclipse Stephen Hendry and become the first eight-time world snooker champion in the modern era.

At the age of 48 and with a record 41 ranking titles – including 23 triple crowns – behind him, O’Sullivan has discovered that he “doesn’t know much about snooker” and has linked back up with a former coach with the aim of improving his approach to the game.

O’Sullivan must wait until Wednesday to put his new approach to the test against qualifier Jackson Page in the first round of the World Championship, which gets under way at the Crucible in Sheffield on Saturday morning.

MrQ Masters 2024 – Day Eight – Alexandra Palace
Ronnie O’Sullivan wants to safeguard his snooker future by learning how to enjoy the game (Bradley Collyer/PA)

O’Sullivan said: “I’ve been trying to think how I want the next five to 10 years to be. I’ve been working with a coach and we’ve done a lot of testing in some ways and I’ve realised I don’t know much about snooker.

“I thought I did. I know how to get a ball in a hole, and I know how to compete and win it, and I’ve got an idea of what needs to happen – I know I have to get this bit of wood and this ball and if I do this, that should happen.

“But I haven’t been that efficient in the last few years and I’ve just tried to accept that I needed a bit of help, so I’ve gone back to a coach that worked with my old coach, and I’m going back through the stuff that worked for me.”

Betfred World Snooker Championship 2022 – Day 17 – The Crucible
Ronnie O’Sullivan could eclipse Stephen Hendry as an eight-time world title winner (Zac Goodwin/PA)

O’Sullivan’s latest coach, Nic Barrow, is a veteran figure on the world snooker circuit and runs a training programme called ‘The Snooker Gym’ which vows to “help frustrated amateurs with any problem in diagnosis”.

O’Sullivan heads to the Crucible as the world number one and with five ranking titles in the bag this season, but insists he has been far from satisfied with his performances during this campaign, and needs to make changes in order to ensure longevity in the sport.

Despite frequent threats of retirement over the years, he now appears committed to extending his career into his sixth decade, adding: “I like to win and I’ve got another five to 10 years, and I’ve got to enjoy the work that I’m doing.

“I know I’ve won tournaments but winning and playing to a certain standard don’t always match up. I’ve played a lot better and not won anything all season. It doesn’t really make sense but I haven’t really enjoyed it, I’ve just been struggling to get through the ball smoothly.

“Being happy with the game is what it’s all about, or if that’s not the case, I’ve got to get around not playing well and accept it, but I’m not good at accepting it.

“There’s two ways to come at it, from a technical point of view with the help of Steve (Peters, psychologist), or if I can’t do that, I’ve got to accept that I am where I am and not let it wind me up. That’s the worst-case scenario. There’s another one, saying I’m not bothered, but I’m not quite ready for that.”

Defending champion Luca Brecel starts on the opening morning against former semi-finalist David Gilbert while former champion Judd Trump plays the first session of his tough first round match against Hossein Vafaei.