Insider's Guide - Nathan Lewer
What’s it like inside the head? Can you actually see out of the eyes? Hear out of the ears? Times have changed with mascot design and they are very user-friendly these days. Captain Hurricane has good visibility and plenty of room inside to be able to hear. There are a few issues with vision lower than waist height and I have donked a kid or two with the chin over the years.
Any mascot heroes? You have to admire some of the baseball and basketball mascots and the antics and tricks they pull off - a little tricky with OSH looking out these days.
What’s your favourite opposing team to antagonize? Super Rugby it would have to be the Chiefs or Crusaders away. I have been fortunate to travel away for a few games (Thanks, Wellington Rugby!) There is nothing like a hostile home crowd when you are on their turf. Fans can get very animated at mascots. It’s all quite amusing!
Is rugby your sport of choice? I played until 16 when size started to count against me and I couldn’t hide behind weight grades, so focussed on athletics. That comes in handy if I have to get away quickly!
What’s your pre-game prep? How about after games? Usually like to get out on the field before kick-off and meet some of the young fans. It gives them a chance for photos and autographs before the crowds pack in at game time. It’s pretty easy to get in the zone for games - especially because people don’t know who you are and you can be as stupid as you like. Nothing special afterwards - a nice hot shower and plenty of water. It is quite amazing how much fluid you lose after 80 minutes out there - especially with the number of tries the boys have run in this season.
Anything special planned for the last home game of the season? This is game number 50 as Captain Hurricane, so a quiet celebration on that front. Perhaps a special send off for SBW? More likely a celebration of the Hurricanes and an awesome season, capped off with a win, of course!
Do you have a favourite fan story or game moment? A couple of favourite game moments - NPC final 2000 vs Canterbury – I have fond memories of sprinting down the sideline after Jonah as he scored in the corner and wondering if I should have dived on him too! On the replays, you can still see Leo the Lion coming into frame as he scores.
The Ranfurly Shield victory also rates up there. Fan moments are definitely a main driver behind the enjoyment of being a mascot. Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces as you shake hands, high five or sign autographs is very rewarding. My best moment was a few years ago: a young girl made a card for Captain Hurricane with a pretty cool poem, and even had a song that went along with it. It gave me a very cool feeling.