Cody Harris believes the local talent contesting this weekend's Auckland Darts Masters is a testament to how the game is growing in New Zealand.

The veteran is one of seven Kiwi dartsmen competing against some of the world's best, with several new names securing their first shot under the lights at Trusts Arena.

"There's so much talent here that a lot of people don't even know about," Harris said.

They're going to find out with these new boys coming in like Ben Robb and Tahuna Irwin and Huapai Puha, even Warren [Parry]."


With new players coming up through the ranks, some of the more experienced Kiwis including Mark Cleaver, Rob Szabo and Darren Herewini did not qualify.

"It just shows the talent that we've got here that are able to qualify, no one really stands out," Harris said.

"I was lucky that I didn't have to qualify and I got the phone call to get the wildcard, so I was really happy about that."

Harris, 32, will have a tough task in the opening round of the weekend's competition after the draw pitted him against world No1 Michael van Gerwen of the Netherlands. After learning of the draw, Harris was unfazed, taking solace in Parry's famous 6-5 win over van Gerwen in Sydney in 2014.

"Everyone knows that Warren's beaten Michael before, so he is beatable," Harris said. "I just want to get up there and get into it."

Van Gerwen, who withdrew from the Auckland tournament in 2017 to attend the birth of his daughter Zoe, was confident coming into the 2018 event.

"I know if I reach my form [Cody's] not going to beat me, but still I first have to make sure I prepare myself and get my game going," van Gerwen said.

Although many sportspeople find extra motivation in their fields after becoming a parent for the first time, the 29-year-old said nothing had changed for him as he looked to continue his domination of the darts world.


"You always have that motivation, but it doesn't really change anything for me. I'm a winner, I want to win my tournaments. It doesn't change anything at all, that's why I'm a professional."

However, his most recent form left a bit to be desired after he was eliminated in the round of 16 at last week's World Matchplay tournament in England.

"Unfortunately you can't win all the time, but I'm sharp for this one."

First round draw
Rob Cross (1) v John Hurring
Simon Whitlock v Ben Robb
Michael Smith (4) v Mark McGrath
Raymond van Barneveld v Warren Parry
Gary Anderson (2) v Tim Pusey
Michael van Gerwen v Cody Harris
Peter Wright (3) v Tahuna Irwin
Kyle Anderson v Haupai Puha