First, catch your Beast. This ought to have been a relatively straightforward pursuit because The Beast in question is currently the hottest thing on league legs: Warrior, Manu Vatuvei.

He has scored five tries in his last two games, which makes him a demigod in Warrior terms. And, even better, because we like our heroes to have staggered a bit, he has gone from zero to hero after a horror game (to employ a string of sporty clichés) in 2007 after which he was nicknamed Blunder.

Also, he is a something of a darling because he's a good lad - happily married to the lovely Jennifer, with an adored 3-year-old daughter and another baby on the way, due in October.

And he has that on-paddock zing: Two startling gold teeth and that excellent sobriquet.

It is easy enough to get interviews with sports stars who are good lads and hot. The club likes them to talk because they are good advertisements for the team and the sponsors.

The team is the Vodafone Warriors. Note the phone connection. So, I had to ring the star on his mobile, leave a message, then text him to say that I'd called, and why. I did this.

Then I phoned twice more. Then I annoyed the hell out of the media manager. I emailed him to say: It's the Vodafone Warriors. Don't they have to answer their phones? Apparently not.

I was told to trot along to SkyCity Casino (another sponsor, so I was beginning to think this was a clever ploy) where he would be signing autographs and getting his player-of-the-week award - a night at the hotel and a jump off that ruddy big tower the name of which I am not going to mention because I don't want to be in the running for plugger of the week.

Anyway, he's not going to do the jump because he's terrified of heights, which I think is pretty funny. He's a giant bloke with thighs at least three times the size of most mortal men's; he's got tattoos up his arm and on his back (his name and his daughter's); he's called The Beast, for heaven's sake.

His best man and best mates abducted him after training before his wedding, blindfolded him, and made him bungi-jump off the harbour bridge. So he's going to wait until one of those mates "does something mean to me and then I'll put him on the spot and make him jump".

This came later, of course, after I did as I was told and trotted along to the casino, where he was as nice as pie and gave me his home address and said to come around the next night.

I still have no idea why we had to first meet at the casino -all I did was interrupt his game of virtual roulette and feel like a twit for doing so. Perhaps he likes to meet people before inviting them around to his house, and that would be fair enough. But I never got to the bottom of this convoluted chasing.

I gave him a mild ticking-off for not answering his phone but he looked so abashed I had to say, "Only teasing". He's terrible with his phone, he says, and he did listen to the messages but ... as soon as he got home he forgot about them.

He's so polite otherwise you couldn't mind. I said I felt as though I was stalking him and he said, "Ha, ha, ha. That's okay. No, that's all right." He was at great pains to make me feel better about the stalking, so you can see how polite he is.

I had wondered whether he just didn't want to do an interview because I don't think he enjoys anything about sitting down with a stranger and talking about himself.

This is part of his job but it can't be much fun for him, and can hardly be what young league players dream of when they dream of being a Warriors star. When I asked, he said, "Oh! Sometimes, you know ... This is all right!" He was just being polite. "No I'm not!"

I was told that people think he can't talk, and that this is a rude assumption made about all the PI players and that, actually, he was capable of being a right yahoo. But when I asked him, he said he was shy and quiet. "I just like to hold back a bit, you know."

He joined the Warriors' development squad when he was 16, which must have been a bit intimidating. He says he sat back and looked and listened for quite a while. "I was really shy. I'm one of those who had to take time."

He wasn't "one of the popular ones" at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, a point he only makes so he can show off a bit about how popular Jennifer was. He had a huge crush on her from the time he was in the third form but they didn't go out until the seventh form. I bet she did the asking.

"Oh, yeah! Her mates knew, she kind of knew herself and she was waiting for me to ask her, you know. I think she got sick of waiting and she told me to meet her at the netball courts and she said surely I knew what she was going to ask me.

And I said, 'If I know the question, then you should know my answer.' And then we just walked away holding hands." What a lovely story. "Ha, ha, ha. That was funny! I've never seen anybody hook up like that!"

His nickname at school was Freshie, as in Fresh off the Boat. "Just all those people who can't really speak English properly, from the islands. Ha, ha, ha." He is Tongan.

How old was he when he came to New Zealand? "I was born and raised here!" His dad, a "hard-out" minister in the Tongan Free Church, insisted that the family spoke Tongan at home.

"My dad was pretty strict about that. He didn't like us speaking English at home. He said, 'That's what school's for'." This was a good thing? "Yeah, sure. You keep the language."

He was a bit naughty. "A little bit." Now he goes and talks to kids and tells them: "Make the most of school. Don't leave school with regrets because when you grow up you kind of realise what you've done and you can't take anything back."

Well, how naughty was he? "Wagging, just a few things." Fighting? "Oh, a little bit. I was just a little kid."

He was a bit chubby because "I used to love eating pies!" Sometimes he'd eat three pies for lunch if he had enough money. He has enough money now but he doesn't splash it about - he helps support his parents because they supported him. He lives in Flat Bush in a modest house in which the only sign of splashing it about a bit is a giant TV screen, but every sports-mad bloke owns one of those.

He's the second youngest of five kids. I said I bet in his family he wasn't the big sports star but still the second youngest of five. "Yeah. I'm still that second youngest and I'm happy it's still like that in the family. Then when they want something, they start treating me like a superstar! Nah!"

The teeth might be a bit superstarry. He says it's a Tongan thing, a sort of rite of passage. Everyone said: Ask him how much his teeth are worth. I did, but he said he didn't know because the gold was melted down from an aunty's ring and given as a gift.

He is very obliging about being asked to show his teeth. This was an odd thing to ask of someone, but he's used to it because people do ask.

He is very obliging, too, about being asked about that time, in 2007, when he was The Blunder. A haughtier sports star would be annoyed about being asked but he seems to regard talking about it as a sort of reminder to himself that he nearly blew it.

He says he was angry with himself and was grumpy with Jennifer but they worked it out and are now even closer. He says he'd got "too confident; too cocky" and thought he didn't have to work at his game. Had he got big-headed? "I wasn't big-headed! But I was kind of almost there!"

He's not silly about his current glorious run, though. You hope he can enjoy it. "Oh, yeah. I can. You just enjoy it for a little while but I can't let it play with my head. Sure, you can enjoy some glory. But I just can't think of two games and then, 'yeah! He's the man!"'

The very idea of this made him laugh. Most things make him laugh. This is how a good half of the transcript of the interview reads: "Ha, ha, ha."

The photographer complained that he laughed so heartily he threw his head right back and she had a hard time getting a good shot of the teeth.

He did make me laugh. I asked if he went giggly on the kava, which he loves, but not as much, he says, as Ruben ("Rubes") Wiki, who, he claims, drinks it every day.

I was trying to imagine him on the kava: he's giggly enough without it. He said, about the giggling, "Sometimes. Depends how funny you are." He claims he gives Jennifer kava when she's mad at him, to calm her down. Because of that early naughtiness, I asked if he used to smoke dope. He said, "Who? Me? I'm not too sure. I can't remember. Ha, ha, ha."

I wondered if he enjoyed being called The Beast and he does, of course, because it makes him sound scary, yet all he does is laugh. "Yeah! It does. It works my way; makes them terrified of me. But I'm not that type of person."

What sort of person is he? Let him tell you. He said, "I'm a smiley people", and flashed those gold teeth. It was quite something to ask a man called The Beast to show you his teeth.

This would have to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and for that alone it was worth the palaver involved in the catching of The Beast.