Prime Minister Bill English will go from slaying a shearing legend in his Southland home turf to more uncertain territory when he makes his debut at Big Gay Out.

English took on the world's fastest shearer - Sir David Fagan - at the Shearing and Wool Handling World Championships in Invercargill yesterday - and won.

But that was on his home turf and in front of his home crowd - farmers.

Today will be a completely different kettle of fish. The staunch Catholic will make his debut at Big Gay Out.

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But it will be Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett who speaks for the Government at the event - English will go along for a walkabout a bit later.

That has been put down to logistical and timing issues.

But English voted against the gay marriage bill - and even though he has since said he would vote differently today, he is set to get a sceptical reception.

English said he was not nervous about that.

It was far from heated at the shearing - politicians generally take their election year victories where they can but even English said his win in the contest against Fagan was undoubtedly a jack-up.

"He wasn't going as fast as he might have, put it that way."

Fagan, who retired from professional shearing in 2015, rather nobly denied he had thrown the contest.

"Of course I wouldn't have done that - he won it fair and square.

"It was brilliant - how often can we get a Prime Minister along to shear a sheep?"

The sentiment was shared by an official on the Australian team, who observed he didn't expect to see Australia's PM Malcolm Turnbull shearing a sheep any time soon.

However, Fagan stopped short of recommending the PM return to farming: "He should stick to his day job."

It had been years since English last sheared a sheep and he had travelled down south a day early and stayed at his family farm but denied that was to get in a sneaky practice shear ahead of his bout with Fagan.

Negotiations leading into the contest had been intense - the Prime Minister's office's starting bid was for Fagan to shear 10 sheep to English's one. That went down to five but by crunch time it had turned from a race to a 'demonstration' on one sheep each.

His decision to take part carried its risks. The last thing English needed was a cut, bleeding sheep in his hands and there were some sensitivities whether animal welfare issues raised about rodeos would seep into events such as the World Shearing Championships as well.