Premier League Darts: How will new boys fare?
Sky Sports' Wayne Mardle hands out his new-boys verdict as they look ahead to the tournament's unique set of challenges
By Sky Sports Darts
Last Updated: 01/02/18 8:02am
Rob Cross, Mensur Suljovic, Gerwyn Price and Daryl Gurney are set to make their Premier League Darts debuts on Thursday, live on Sky Sports. How will they handle the step up?
What does it mean to be included in the Premier League?
Cross: The challenge of going out every week in the Premier League I think is excellent. It's a great opportunity to show what I can do.
Gurney: It means something, that I'm doing something right. I still need to improve but obviously I'm going in the right direction.
Price: I deserve this, and I can live with any of them. It's a great honour to be picked. I'm not here for one year - I want to play for many years to come!
Wayne Mardle's verdict on Rob Cross
He came crashing back down to earth by losing in the Masters but still played brilliantly so won’t have had his confidence knocked.
I think he will make the play-offs because he is too relentless. He is so much more consistent than a lot of the others.
Rob won’t be thinking of elimination, he will be looking for a play-off spot. You can average 110 one week then 90 the next.
The secret is doing a job when you’re slightly off. Will he adjust? He won the World Championship on his debut so he can cope with the Premier League, that’s for sure.
Do you belong in the world's top 10?
Suljovic: I think I am one of the world's 10 best players.
Gurney: Some days I do, some I don't. I've been watching these players for years and now, on a weekly basis, but now I have to beat them. I need to get out of the mode of looking at them as superstars. I've got to realise that I need to beat them.
Price: I'm not here to make up numbers, I'm here to be in the top four. I've got the ability. I'm No 12 in the world (James Wade and Dave Chisnall are not in it) and I've worked hard for this.
Wayne Mardle's verdict on Mensur Suljovic
I’ve been trying to work him out. I don’t know! He lost the plot in October after he won the Champions League of Darts.
He was completely out of sorts at the Worlds but, last weekend, played well at the Masters.
When he’s comfortable and confident he will be fine but sometimes, just sometimes, he looks out of his depth. I can’t read him.
The season is notoriously gruelling. Are you prepared for that?
Gurney: I've been warned by past players, from four of five years ago, so I know it will be a gruelling tournament. I wouldn't have said yes otherwise. You get a day and a half off before you're away again. Definitely it's a challenge. Last year I had a couple of weekends at home and this year it will be worse because I'll be even busier.
Cross: I've never experienced the Premier League so it's going to be a little bit new and it will take a couple of weeks to settle in.
What about the crowds? Can you impress them?
Gurney: I'm looking forward to being a part of the atmosphere with a crowd against me, on my back. Belfast is my home tournament and whenever there is Sweet Caroline blasting out, we're guaranteed a great atmosphere.
Suljovic: I am a little bit nervous!
Price: I'm anxious heading into the first game. It's a new tournament, new environment so I don't know what to expect. The bigger crowd will be the biggest change. I'm sure after the first walk-on, then the first dart, I'll be ok. I don't usually get nervous. Peter Wright is the only one who is giving advice - I don't know if that's good or bad! Maybe he's looking to put me off! Peter gives me lots of tips, some of which I don't take!
Wayne Mardle's verdict on Daryl Gurney
He’s always a dangerous because he’s got an explosive game. He is a James Wade type but with an extra gear – he can reel off four or five legs in quick succession.
But I’m worried because Gurney is losing to players that he’s better than, like John Henderson in the Worlds.
Gurney has to hit the ground running because, when you make a poor start, you worry where the next point is coming from.
Have you set yourself a target?
Suljovic: My target is to be in the last eight, that would be good for me. I am most excited to play Gary Anderson, a nice guy and a brilliant player. I have beaten him before.
Price: I want revenge on Gary Anderson in Cardiff.
Cross: Last year was a bit of a whirlwind, a learning curve all the way through, and this year will be no different. Usually I deal with it and I'm going to enjoy it."
Wayne Mardle's verdict on Gerwyn Price
Gerwyn doesn’t have to play well every week to build his confidence, whereas others may panic more. I don’t see Gerwyn as panicking.
The 2018 Premier League gets underway from Dublin's 3Arena this Thursday night with coverage underway from 7pm on Sky Sports Action. 16 weeks of tungsten will continue through to the season's conclusion with the Play-Offs on May 17 at The O2 in London.
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