Police have branded the actions of a Kiwi serial streaker who interrupted the dying moments of Wednesday night's Origin decider as ''idiotic and senseless'', but Wati Holmwood has emerged as an unlikely hero on social media following his 90-metre nude dash.
No one wants to see a grown man running around naked at a footy match and this man can expect to not only feel the wrath of the crowd but also a magistrate.
The tubby 33-year-old, originally from Nelson, is being described online variously as a ''legend'' and a hero who ''deserves a medal'' after he hurdled the fence at ANZ Stadium and sprinted nearly the length of the field before falling over in front of the goal posts, where he was pounced upon by security.
At least eight Facebook pages have been set up dedicated to the serial streaker, including one page with more than 18,000 followers who are being encouraged to donate money to pay for his expected $5500 fine.
''You can donate 5c, $1 or how ever much you want,'' the page says.
Dozens of memes also have been posted online, including one in which Holmwood is shown streaking across the finishing line of a 100-metre sprint in front of Usain Bolt.
Holmwood, who was charged after a similar stunt during a sudden-death clash between the Wests Tigers and New Zealand Warriors in 2011, had smeared himself in a Vaseline-like substance on Wednesday night before hurdling onto the field to make it harder for security to tackle him.
But police, and some Origin players, are less than impressed with his actions."No one wants to see a grown man running around naked at a footy match and this man can expect to not only feel the wrath of the crowd but also a magistrate,'' said Chief Superintendent Peter Gillam, who was in charge of the police operation at ANZ Stadium.
''Sadly one man's actions disrupted the game during a crucial time. His running onto the field and into the middle of the play was not only dangerous but also idiotic and senseless.''
Other social media users have blasted Holmwood's streak, which came just two minutes and 10 seconds before the final siren.
His stunt meant match officials were forced to restart play in the form of a scrum - and a further set of six tackles - to the Maroons, denying the Blues the chance to snatch victory.
Some fans were furious, saying he ruined the game and should cop a bigger fine for his actions.
And it wasn't just the fans and players at the stadium who where surprised.
The Holmwood family was sitting in front of the television watching the Origin showdown at their Kogarah home when they saw a big, bald, naked man streak across their screen in nothing but a pair of joggers.
Straight away they knew it was cousin Wati, up to his old tricks again
''As soon as I saw the bald head and dark-coloured skin, I knew that it was him. I just laughed,'' said Wati's cousin Ebony-Rose Holmwood on Thursday morning.
''I'm not sure why he did it. We just all found it quite hilarious.''
Holmwood had not warned his family that he was planning to make an unforgettable entrance onto one of Australian sport's biggest stages.
They might have averted their eyes if he had.
Ebony-Rose said she had not spoken to her cousin since his nether-regions were covered with a blanket and he was marched off the turf at ANZ Stadium by a team of security officers and police.
But she was not surprised by his actions, this time around at least.
''I knew he did it for the first time in 2011. That all shocked us,'' she said, referring to Wati's previous streak.
''He's actually a nice guy, to be honest. He's quite mellow, the quiet one, someone you can have a nice chat to. I think that's why it shocked us [after his first streak]. He's not the type of person you would think to see out there.''We always had a giggle about it after the first time, and kind of made fun of it.''
She's not sure what possessed the Blues fan to make a public exhibition of himself again, but she has some suspicions.
''From my point of view, I think he's maybe been with his mates and wanted to have a laugh,'' she said.
''He goes for NSW. Maybe that's why he jumped in at that last moment, to try to interfere with the Queensland try.
''I think he did it purely just for a laugh and to get his five minutes of fame.''
Another of Holmwood's cousins, Doreen Brennan, said from Nelson, that she was surprised he had streaked.
''He's a nice boy. He was a ratbag when he was younger but he's grown up now,'' she said.
Wati was the oldest of five Holmwood brothers and a sister who had moved to Sydney and had been there about 10 years, she said.''They live a really good life,'' she said.
A family friend, Grace Saxton, said she wouldn't have believed he would streak.
''Maybe one of the others but not Wati. He was reserved and would not do something impromptu.''
Holmwood was charged with wilful and obscene exposure, and entering or remaining on a playing field without authorisation.
Police said he also would be banned from all future events at ANZ Stadium, while it is understood the NRL will impose a life-time ban on him for all rugby league matches.
He is due to appear in Burwood Local Court on August 6.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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