Josh Rock happy for Luke Littler to be centre of attention: ‘I’m glad it’s him and not me’

Josh Rock is glad another young talent is the centre of attention now (Picture: Getty Images)

Josh Rock found himself at the centre of a debate after Gary Anderson spoke out on media hype at the World Championship. As he prepares for the Ladbrokes UK Open this week, Rocky reckons the Flying Scotsman had a point.

Anderson sparked a conversation at Alexandra Palace in December when he hit out at the press for the huge interest in new sensation Luke Littler.

The former world champion warned of the pitfalls of hyping up young players too much and Rock was his case study.

‘We had another youngster called Josh Rock that all you press destroyed,’ said Anderson. ‘So if it ever goes tits up with Luke, then give yourself a pat on the back. That’s the way it’s going. Let the boy play darts.

‘Today he’s had cameras, zoom calls, Sky meetings. He’s had a great tournament but what happens if it goes Pete Tong now. You guys have ruined it. Just like Josh Rock, fantastic player but you guys have set him back.’

Rock won the 2022 PDC World Youth Championship, the year before Littler lifted the trophy, and made a brilliant start to his senior career, attracting so much attention that he became one of the favourites to win the 2023 World Darts Championship on debut.

He was beaten in the last 16 by Jonny Clayton and went on to have a good, if not spectacular 2023 then fell at the first hurdle of the 2024 World Darts Championship.

2023/24 Paddy Power World Darts Championship - Day Two

Gary Anderson had some stern words for the press at Ally Pally (Picture: Getty Images)

So was Anderson onto something? The 22-year-old thinks so, but is not quite in full agreement with the Scot.

‘I think he had a point because it’s not really fair that there’s a camera on you 24/7,’ Rock told Metro.co.uk. ‘You’re sitting, trying to practice, trying to talk to your manager or the people supporting you and there’s a camera in your face. So 100 per cent I understand where Gary was coming from.

‘But yes and no, if I’m honest. Sometimes it [hype] was put on you without you really knowing, sometimes you didn’t really care about it, so it was probably 50-50.

‘Now it’s completely different that Luke’s taken over. I think it’s pressure-off, I’m not doing as much media stuff, Luke’s probably never off the phone now, I’m glad it’s him and not me.’

Luke Littler became a superstar during the World Championship (Picture: Getty Images)

Rock may be feeling better now the focus is not weighing as heavily on him, but he does not think the hype set him back as Anderson suggested.

‘No, I had a better last year than the very first year,’ he said. ‘I climbed up the rankings more, got to more finals. I didn’t get over the line but that’s just the learning curve.

‘I would say it was more that people were expecting me to hit these 110+ averages all the time because I was doing it pretty regularly. I think that’s more where he was coming from. 100 per cent I was still progressing in the right direction.’

Rock is feeling good in his game as he heads to Minehead for the Ladbrokes UK Open, but while he may not think hype set him back, he is still working to find his best form.

Over-thinking hampered him last year, but after identifying that problem he is confident of improving.

‘My confidence is there, my game’s coming back slowly,’ he said. ‘I’ve been playing well lately, just results haven’t been going my way. It’s all down to doubles at the minute, I need to focus on them because I know my scoring is always there.

2023 Betfred World Matchplay

Rock is extremely well placed at world number 21 at just 22 years old (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I’ve never played badly. The first year was a free hit. I obviously cared, but I played like I didn’t care. Now I’m thinking about world rankings, getting in the top 16, you are thinking about other things. But I think my game is coming back very slowly.

‘Last year I was thinking about that stuff but this year I’ve totally forgot about it because there’s no point. Either it’s not meant to happen or not meant to happen.’

It would be remarkable if Rock even has time to think about world rankings and such as he is expecting his second child, news he heard shortly after his Ally Pally exit in December.

‘Losing at the Worlds wasn’t painful, I got over it pretty quick because I found out I’m going to be a dad for the second time so that perked me up a bit,’ he said.

‘I forgot about the World Championship pretty quick, but this year I’ll be very determined to lift that trophy.’


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