By Phil Lanning
PETER WRIGHT has hailed his brave wife Jo as the inspiration to end his Betfred World Matchplay torment.
The 2020 World Champion continues his bid for a first title in Blackpool against Joe Cullen tomorrow night.
But Wright, 51, admits his biggest concern is wife and hairstylist Jo who underwent a serious spine op on Thursday. But remarkably she will still be at the Winter Gardens to oversee his wacky colourful mohican makeovers.
He said: “It’s well known that Jo has had dreadful back problems for some time now. She’s now had three spine ops in three years.
“After spending so many months in really bad pain she’s had a second op called an Alif replacement of disc s1-15 which is a spinal fusion and inserting a titanium disc and screws.
“But Jo insisted on coming straight from the op to Blackpool. She will have a walker with her to help her stay mobile.
“Jo said she’d rather be at the Winter Gardens because if she’s not I will just worry like I did throughout the Premier League.
“It’s going to be a very tough few weeks for Jo and we have a Plan B that if she can’t stand up for long she’s going to teach her dad to do my hair under her supervision!
“If Jo can do that for me and travel through the pain barrier, that’s my inspiration to get results in the Matchplay.”
Wright has got an excellent record in the £700,000 summer tournament without ever lifting the Phil Taylor Trophy.
The closest he has got to glory in Blackpool was losing out in an emotional final to Taylor in his final Matchplay clash four years ago.
Wright was left in tears that night but has vowed to finally get it right in the Winter Gardens – especially in front of fans again.
He added: “I’m so happy that we will get a full house again next week. The atmosphere is going to be unbelievable. I think all the players will feel a massive lift from that.
“It’s going to be extra special at the Matchplay because the fans are right behind the stage and are very noisy. I like it like that.
“The one thing we will need to get used to is the heat again. The forecast is very warm and the Winter Gardens is usually roasting on the stage under the lights.
“We’ve spent the last 18 months playing without fans in really cold arenas, so the heat will be a new thing.
“In the last six years I think I’ve made two semis, two quarters and lost a final. I went out early last year but that doesn’t count because it was in Milton Keynes!
“Seriously though, I’ve been close but it’s definitely a trophy I want. When I played Phil in the final it was too emotional for me because that was his stage at the Winter Gardens and his final match there.
“Next time I cry on that stage I want it to be tears of joy and the way I’m playing right now, I know I can do it.”
Images by Taylor Lanning.