Queen's Birthday Honours: Former All Blacks captain Wayne 'Buck' Shelford knighted for service to rugby, community work

Former All Blacks skipper Wayne 'Buck' Shelford has been awarded a knighthood for services to rugby and the community in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

The 63-year-old made his All Blacks debut in 1985 and was a part of the team that won the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Following the World Cup victory, Shelford was appointed captain and held the role from 1987-90, when the All Blacks didn't lose a game, drawing once against Australia.   

Sir Wayne was shocked when he heard of his honour. 

"When I first got the letter saying they're offering me a knighthood, I was quite gobsmacked," Shelford tells Newshub. "You wonder how they pick these people, but then I showed the letter to my wife, who had been away for a day with work, and she just laughed. 

"I said 'what are you laughing at?' She didn't put it together, but she had people come to her and say they wanted to nominate her husband for a gong.

"I got the letter and it said a few things, but basically I had to give them an answer back. My wife and I discussed it for a week, before deciding to say yes to it, which is a big thing to carry."

Selflessly, Shelford was keen to accept the award, not just himself, but for everyone that helped him through his career. 

"It is a surprise, but my wife and I talked about it, and said yes I would take it," Shelford says. "She said I should take it, because it's not just for you, it's for all the people that you work with, that support you and what you do, especially the RSA.

"For the rugby teams I follow and coach, and being the president of the rugby club, it's a big thing. They can pump their chest out and say we have a ‘sir’ in the club.

“I look back now, and that was a great part of my life and my family's life."

A big moment in Shelford's career was his selection for the All Blacks in 1985 and the big No.8 went on to represent his country on 48 occasions - including 22 tests and 31 as captain - and he was the epitome of brute strength and athletic prowess throughout his rugby career.

"Getting picked to become an All Black is a big thing in it's own right and it's a little bit different than playing for the All Blacks, because once you're in, you're in," he says. 

"In that week I got picked for the All Blacks, I had just played a game against Wairarapa Bush and we were having our court session, when our manager came in.

"He said three of the boys had been named for the All Blacks for the tour to South Africa, and he named Steve McDowall, Victor Simpson and myself. All the boys jumped up in the air.”

By today's standards, Shelford was not a giant, standing 1.89m and weighing 108kg, but his unbreakable spirit has gone down in legend, after he tore his scrotum, lost four teeth and asked the physio to patch him back up, so he could get back on the pitch in the 1986 test against France. 

He is ferociously committed to the game, and remembered for revitalising the All Blacks' traditional ‘Ka Mate’ haka.

The 63-year-old is also passionate about encouraging Kiwi men to take better care of their health, after beating cancer himself 14 years ago.

He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the lymph nodes while weakening the immune system.

"You look at what you have been doing and think ‘why me’, but anyone can come down with cancer," he says. "I came down with it and just had to get through it. 

“That's a battle you have to face and gets chucked at you.  

"While I was in my cancer treatment, I noticed there wasn't a lot out there for men's problems. I jumped on that and I've been with them for 14 years, nothing has changed. 

"No matter how much you go out there and try to drive them to go to the doctors, men are still staunch. They don't like the doctors. 

“If you have bad health, who is going to look after your family if you can't.”   

Still to this day, Shelford fights to help everyone battling cancer or any health issues.  

Other honours: 

Ruia Morrison - To be Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit: For services to tennis

Adam Blair - To be Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit: For services to rugby league For services to hockey

Ryan Archibald - To be Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit: For services to hockey

Ric Salizzo - To be Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit: For services to sports media

Peter Miskimmin - QSO To be Companions of the Queen’s Service Order: For services to sports governance and public service