Bringing face to the table

AMAZINGLY, Fergal O'Brien is completely unaware of the incredible facial expressions he pulls during snooker games.

The professional snooker player came to Bendigo this week to compete in the Australian Snooker Goldfields Open, though was unfortunately knocked out his Tuesday night match.

"I’m not aware of (my facial expression). I’ve always been the same even when I was a kid," O'Brien said.

The Irishman said he's had comments like, "My god that's some wicked face you have", for years.

O'Brien says his "game face" does not reflect his usual countenance.

"Actually I have quite a soft look but obviously when I play I’m getting tense," he said.

Among friends he said he was known as "the baby-faced assassin".

"Away from the table I look 25, at the table I look 85," he laughed. 

He remembers the Bendigo Advertiser ran a front page photo of him in the heat of the moment last year.

"Last year's one on the front page was a doozy, I'm either the most handsome man in the world or the scariest, clearly it's the latter," he said. "The good Lord doesn’t give you everything."

At 42, O'Brien is maintaining good form. He can run five kilometres in less than 20 minutes. 

Snooker is mostly a mental game, but he said it was good to remain fit, to be able to stay concentrated during long matches that could last up to six hours. 

O'Brien grew up with a passion for snooker, so much so that he's unsure whether he should have completed high school.

"My parents insisted I stay in school, I don’t know, if it was left to me I would have left," he said.

He said youthfulness was valuable as a snooker player, with some Chinese players as young as eight competing on the professional circuits.

He's been playing professional level snooker for 23 years and has seen the epicenter of snooker move from Britain and Ireland to China, where it continues to rise in popularity.

He said snooker competitions in China attracted TV audiences of 100 million. 

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