Wayne "Buck" Shelford, as everyone knows, is one of the toughest of the All Blacks, ever - thanks to that famous game in France when he lost four teeth, gained a concussion and, so the myth goes, went to the sideline to get his scrotum stitched before returning to the paddock.

It's a good story, one that is told in a documentary called, of course, Bring Back Buck, after the campaign that sprang up after what is usually described as his "bombshell" dropping as All Blacks captain, and from the side, in 1990.

These are funny things to be famous for and they are things he's not exactly over the moon about reliving - and who could blame him? Except there is that documentary which screens tonight on Maori TV at 8.30pm - so tough, he has to talk to me.

At least I assume he had his very large arm firmly twisted (and I'd have liked to have seen that) by Maori TV because, blimey, he is a terrible grump when you ring him to ask, nicely, if you can talk to him.

He might want to promote the documentary, I thought, quite wrongly. He regarded the idea of talking to me with as much enthusiasm as your average bloke would to the idea of having his scrotum stitched. He said, "You people. You people. You always want to have a look." Well yes, that's why I was ringing him, in advance of people having a look at his documentary. Perhaps he long ago had his fill of people looking at him, but who knows what he really meant?

He grumbled a bit more about how people could just watch the documentary and, finally, said he'd ring Maori TV - I could call him back.

He came around, obviously, but he sounded just as cross when I did call him back. I said there would also be a photographer. He said he wasn't going to hold a bloody football. Nobody had asked him to hold a football. We did consider taking one, just to see what he'd do. I said, right at the end, to the photographer, "Can you just go and get that rugby ball out of the boot?" and got the evil Buck eye. "No," he said. I reckon he could have been talked into it, which he'll no doubt deny, because he likes to be the bossiest person at the table. But he shouldn't have told me, in response to being asked how tough he is, that: "I'm a big wimp".

He is also, he announced, "a, what do you call it? A metrosexual!" I had stupidly asked whether he can cook. He decided to pretend to take offence at this. "Of course I can cook." Does he? "Yes. All the time." How many times a week? "Once a month." He does housework. "Every day." What? "I make the bed. Ha, ha. That's housework."

He doesn't even know what a metrosexual is. "We do a bit of everything." That's not a metrosexual. "We wear hair gel." He's not wearing hair gel. "No. What is a metrosexual then?" A bloke who uses moisturiser. "I use moisturiser." He said, "Look, my arm is peeling," and scratched at his arm to prove it. "I put some on here this morning." I really shouldn't have asked what sort of moisturiser he used. "Vanilla. Ha, ha, ha. Did you see that show on TV?" He meant that Petra Bagust show, "on how women spend all this money on crap!" I wasn't remotely interested in any of this, but he was. It saved him, I suppose, from having to talk about droppings and scrotums. He said, with authority: "You're supposed to moisturise from the outside in. Drink more water! I like Petra." He was winking at the photographer as he said this. Did he think she was hot, then? That elicited another grump: "I don't know her."

At least that ended this fascinating subject, I thought, but no. "The amount of money you ladies spend! The cheaper items are as good as the expensive ones. You ladies are so into ... chic, you know!" Oh, how does he know? He only knows one lady - his wife. "Well, tell you what. She's not cheap, either. Oh, I don't mind women having things." I think he does, a bit. Is he mean with money? He said, looking very pleased with himself, as well he might, having completely taken over my interview: "How many pairs of shoes can you wear at once? One. How many pairs of shoes have you got?" I didn't answer that. He didn't answer some of my questions. He's the face, or body actually, of Jenny Craig. I asked why, meaning: why so publicly? "Why not?" he said. He is, presumably, being paid to do it. "They pay me in food." And money? "It's got nothing to do with you!" What's the food like? "It's all right." All right! He's supposed to be endorsing the stuff. That got me a lecture. "You've got to remember food is a means to an end. All it does is fuel your system, right?"

What he likes talking about, other than the amount of money ladies spend, is his family and his studies. He's studying te reo. He decided learning the language was important after his "cancer scare". He was diagnosed with lymphoma, which was successfully treated, in 2007.

He wasn't much interested in talking about the documentary, or at least, what's in the documentary. It might amuse him. "Oh yeah. But it's just another TV show." He'll watch it tonight, with his family. I've already seen it, as he well knew. This didn't stop him saying: "You should watch it. You might learn something!"

But having watched the documentary, I'm still not sure why he was dropped. Politics, he says. He says he found out later players were holding meetings, behind closed doors, to get rid of him. Didn't they like him? "How would I know!" Perhaps he was too blunt? "I wouldn't say blunt, ha, ha." What would he say? I was thinking of those phone calls. "I'm not scared of bloody enforcing my opinion to people." I wondered whether his bluntness, which he calls being honest, could be mistaken for rudeness. That really was a silly thought. "I don't think so. Maybe they're too PC! How can you treat honesty as rudeness?" People with delicate sensibilities might. "Well, maybe they should toughen up a little bit! Ha, ha, ha."

This seemed a good time to examine (although not too minutely, given my delicate sensibilities) the legend of the scrotum. "Oh, that's been talked about." But there's still the myth that he knew the extent of the injury, to put this really delicately, and that he carried on. But he didn't, did he? "Sounds good!" Sounds stupid to me. Who, knowing, would carry on? "Somebody stupid! Not me. I thought it was just a kick." But how could he have not known? It must have hurt like hell. That is the sort of question only a lady would ask. He said, scathingly, "I wasn't really thinking about it. I was in the middle of a test match, getting beaten up ..." He had a thought about how to describe pain. "Now, if I had a knife and I just sliced your leg - like that!" he said, looking both at my legs and very keen on the idea, "and the knife was really sharp, you wouldn't feel it".

He must have felt something - in the doco, his wife does a very funny impersonation of him, entirely emotionless, watching the rugby - about his dumping. Hurt and upset, for a couple of emotions. "Nah." Those are not words in his vocabulary. He deals with things "philosophically"; he "moves on".

Still, he's been coaching since 1987, and he said, sounding perhaps just a little hurt: "and I still can't get a position within New Zealand within the Super 12 or 14, even as an assistant coach". He thinks a documentary made in 1993, about him coaching North Harbour, did for his chances. Or the swearing did. "I think it's haunted me. It's hurt my career." Also, "some people say that I think I'm bigger than the game". But why would they think that? "Oh, it's hard to say. I think some people are threatened by me because I'm so honest."

Which is where I asked whether that honesty might be mistaken for rudeness. He rounded, honestly, you might say, on me for that. "Would you rather be stabbed in the belly or stabbed in the back?" He can talk tough all right. He said that if any of his old rugby mates say anything bad about him in tonight's doco, "the next time I see them I'm going to smack them. Ha, ha, ha."

Such a tough guy. "Nah, you ask my wife. I'm a pushover." He is, a bit. I told him off for being such a grouch on the phone. Perhaps, I suggested, he doesn't get jobs because when people ring him up and ask, very nicely, if they can talk to him, they get a grump saying, "I'm not holding a bloody rugby ball." He gave what, for him, almost passes for an apology. "I was actually at school when you rang me and I've got to be really quick because if my phone goes off in class, I have to buy a cake for the next day!"

Oh, all right, I believe him. He's all growl and bark. He said, "You better write nice things about me." Or what? Or he'd never talk to me again, he said. Now that did make me laugh - given how little he wanted to talk to me in the first place - and so did he. And that is a nice thing to be able to write about him.