Ben Robb (Te Whakatōhea, Te Whānau ā Apanui) will be New Zealand’s sole representative at the Professional Darts Corporation World Darts Championship debut in December in London.
The 31-year-old qualified after winning the DartPlayers New Zealand in Porirua last weekend.
At 6’3” Robb, whose nickname is the ‘Big Rig’, is now on his way to the iconic Alexandra Palace in England to compete against the best in the world.
“I played basketball for 10 years, I didn’t even get as far as Wellington! I played darts for 3 years, I’ve been to Korea, to Germany, all over New Zealand, all over Australia,” he says.
“You don’t want to celebrate too much if you have a win because there’s a lot more work to be done.”
When asked about what his mum Lynley said to him after winning the right to represent NZ, an emotional Ben told Te Ao Māori, “Don’t do that! Nah, it was just cos she knows how much I sacrificed.
“She just said it in ‘mum’s words’ you know? Only in the way mums can.”
Robb’s rise through the pro ranks has been remarkable, given that he only made his debut in August last year in Auckland.
Ben Robb shows Te Ao Maori News the basics of darts Photo / File
In the Hamilton Darts Masters tournament this year, he beat Australian Simon Whitlock 6-4 to become just the second Kiwi to win a World Series match in Aotearoa.
“Really humbling, I’m getting messages from people that I haven’t heard from in years,” Robb says.
“The players coming through New Zealand, they’re all young Māori men.”
It’s been a big year for Māori darts, with the duo of Cody Harris and Haupai Puha reaching the quarter-finals of the Darts World Cup in June.
The two reached the quarter-final after beating Lithuania and South Africa, before succumbing to eventual finalists Japan.
Robb moved from Christchurch to Auckland this week as part of his preparation strategy ahead of flying out to England at the beginning of next month.
“To be in that dense environment of high-quality dart players, that’s what I’m looking forward to, there are no easy games,” Robb says.
“I always tell myself when I’m playing darts, make every moment count because I’m away from my family.”
He will be the 13th New Zealander to represent New Zealand at the World Champs, which run from December 13 till January 1. The winner receives NZD$1 million.