GERWYN PRICE hopes darts will come home this Christmas following his bromance with England star James Maddison.
The Welshman, 37, won the world title for the first time in January 2021 but it was behind closed doors due to the Covid crisis.
PAGerwyn Price is bidding to lift the PDC Trophy for a second year in a row[/caption]
TIM ABELLThe Welshman is confident of retaining his title[/caption]
INSTAGRAMAnd he hopes his friendship with Leicester and England ace James Maddison will help guide him to glory[/caption]
Over the past year, he has struck up an Anglo-Welsh friendship with the charismatic Leicester City playmaker.
Maddison, 26, is preparing for the Foxes League Cup clash at MK Dons next Tuesday after being on the bench as the Three Lions lost to France in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Outside of football, Maddison loves nothing more than three-in-a-darts-bed – he watches all the top darts matches, attends tournaments and play it himself at home.
Price – a former rugby union forward – said: “James reached out to me on Instagram and supported me a couple of times with good-luck messages.
“He’s a huge fan of darts. I’ve seen him playing online somewhere, and he invited me up to watch Leicester play during the World Grand Prix.
“I think that was the first game they had won all season (4-0 against Forest) and we were invited to the training ground and did a bit of filming.
“He’s a great lad. I’ve met his family and he was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch at the game I saw.
“When he was selected in England’s World Cup squad, I messaged him to say: ‘Well done – but I don’t think I want you playing against Wales!’
“But that’s what I like about darts: it’s an individual sport, you don’t have to rely on anyone else.
“As a footballer, you can be the best player on your team by a mile and still miss out.
“He was on the fringes of the England squad for a long time, and I know how it feels to win people over.
“Sometimes, as a rugby player at international level when I was younger, I felt I missed out for reasons that weren’t obvious.
“I was in the Wales Under-20 squad and there were three hookers.
“But the other two were from the same clubs as the coaches, and sometimes a friendship or a connection can override everything, and it doesn’t seem fair.”
Price will be in action tonight as he plays Englishman Luke Woodhouse in the second round.
Should he win, and he is the overwhelming favourite to do so, he will return after Christmas for the last 32.
Despite being world No1, it has been a disappointing campaign with just two low-key TV titles and defeat to Michael van Gerwen in the final of the World Matchplay in July.
The two nine-darters in the same Premier League tie in Belfast in February were the big highlight of the calendar year.
PDCJames Maddison is a big fan of the darts[/caption]
PDCThe Foxes ace is a regular attendee of the big tournaments[/caption]
Gerwyn Price admits he’s under pressure to retain his titleREX
Back in May, Price had planned to get in the ring for a charity boxing bout to raise funds in honour of his mother-in-law.
That fight never came off as weeks beforehand he broke his throwing hand – the origins of how that happened have never been made public.
Separate to that episode, he has now revealed for the first time that he has been struggling with a major hand issue that is affecting his throwing action.
Price revealed: “I have a problem with my lymphatic system which makes my hands swell a lot when they get too hot.
“Maybe that’s why I find it hard at the Matchplay, where it’s really hot on stage.
“I’ve seen every specialist, and we’ve explored whether it’s from all the travelling and deep vein thrombosis or whatever.
“If I go on holiday and sit in the sun, it’s an absolute no-go.
“I’ve been prescribed water tablets which I take at night. I wake up and I’m 10lbs lighter.
“When I broke my hand, people thought it was swollen from breaking it – but it’s from the excess fluid in my system.
“It doesn’t affect the way I grip a dart, but if my hand is carrying more water it means there’s more weight behind the throw.”