MICHAEL Smith will play in the opening game of the Auckland Darts Masters when he makes his debut in the PDC's international World Series of Darts 2017 tomorrow.

The St Helens thrower will come up against another debutant in Dart Players New Zealand number one Rob Szabo at the Trusts Arena.

They are due on stage in Round One at 7pm local time (8am UK), with the action being broadcast on ITV on a delayed basis on Friday night.

Eight seeded PDC players face Oceanic qualifiers for starters, with quarter finals to follow on Saturday and then the semi finals and final on Sunday.

The World Series will then cross the Tasman Sea to Australia, with action to follow on successive weekends in Melbourne and Perth.

But all eyes are on Auckland tomorrow, where Gary Anderson will begin his title defence.

Two-time World Champion Anderson claimed the World Series of Darts title in Auckland last year when he overcame 2015 winner Adrian Lewis in the final at the Trusts Arena.

He has been paired with namesake Kyle Anderson in Friday's first round in New Zealand, with the Australian ace on a high after winning his first PDC ranking title at a Players Championship last Saturday, when he also landed a nine-dart finish.

UK Open champion and world number three Peter Wright faces a tough test when he comes up against Corey Cadby, the reigning PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion who knocked out Phil Taylor in last year's Perth Darts Masters.

Taylor, the 16-time World Champion who will compete in Auckland for the final time in this weekend's event, has drawn newcomer Darren Herewini for his first round tie, with the 26-year-old making his TV debut against the sport's greatest ever player.

Top Kiwi Warren Parry has drawn five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld.

Emerging Kiwi star Cody Harris will take on Australia's Simon Whitlock, while US Darts Masters finalist Daryl Gurney meets Adelaide's Rob Modra and two-time World Series finalist James Wade plays home qualifier Mark Cleaver.

Schedule of Play:

Friday, August 11 (7pm local time), First Round (all games best of 11 legs):

Michael Smith v Rob Szabo.

Daryl Gurney v Rob Modra.

James Wade v Mark Cleaver.

Raymond van Barneveld v Warren Parry.

Phil Taylor v Darren Herewini.

Simon Whitlock v Cody Harris.

Gary Anderson v Kyle Anderson.

Peter Wright v Corey Cadby.

Saturday August 12 (7pm local time): Quarter-Finals, Order of Play TBC, All games best of 19 legs.

Sunday August 13 (6pm local time): Semi Finals, Final. All games best of 21 legs.