Super Stuart set to take on Rocket

Preston potter Stuart Pettman made the perfect start to the new snooker season yesterday.

The left-hander dispensed with former world No.6 Alan McManus to book his place in the second round of the Northern Ireland Trophy at the Waterfront Hall.

And a 5-2 win was enough to earn the 31-year-old a mouth-watering second round tie with former world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan.

"I can't wait to play him," said a delighted Pettman, who compiled breaks of 92, 42 and 40 to progress.

He joked: "I've obviously got an easy match in the next round!

"Ronnie's a great player, but I've got nothing to lose. I'm looking forward to the match.

"We've played a few times and I've been ahead in a couple of those matches and he's come back.

"Hopefully I can beat him for a change."

Pettman was forced to qualify for the first ranking event of the season, defeating Lee Page at the Pontin's Holiday Park in Prestatyn at the end of last month.

But with a couple of games under his belt he feels he could fair well in Belfast when many other players are 'coming in cold'.

"That's a great start to the season for me," added Pettman. "To be honest I've not really practised. Me and Shokat Ali have bought a snooker club in Lancashire, and my time has been spent working on the business.

"I had three hours' practice before my qualifying match in Prestatyn, and I played well.

"I think the pressure has lifted off me because I've been focusing on the business.

"I have adopted a carefree attitude.

"Maybe I should stick with it if I keep winning."

Fellow Prestonian Ian McCulloch opens his account against

Scunthorpe's Matthew Couch.

The world No.26, twice a ranking event runner-up, will play seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry in the second round if he were to progress.