Hori BOP's brave tribute to the Beaver
Daring dash across Waikato RiverJENNA LYNCH
A scream, a swear word and a mighty pound of his chest marked Hori BOP's entrance into the freezing Waikato river this afternoon.
But the loud and proud 180kg Hori (also known as Terry Leaming) - and the Bay of Plenty Steamers' unofficial mascot - is no stranger to the crisp waters of the Waikato, this is his second annual plunge to pay tribute to Stephen Donald's World Cup winning kick.
"Why do I do this to myself? Me and my big mouth," he said.
The swim is a part of the Mooloo Multisport, comprising eating a pie, swimming the Waikato River, drinking a Waikato Draught and running down Victoria Street.
He completed the challenge last year after losing a bet to his Mooloo pal Bill Arabin about Stephen Donald taking part in the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup campaign.
"It's a lot colder this year," he cried out while trying to fight the current and get back to land.
"I was almost swept out to sea that time."
All in all he was pleased with today's effort, judging by the massive grin spread across his face.
"I've done it for the Beaver," was his victory call.
Hori seems to have changed his tune after admitting to slating Stephen Donald's performances before the World Cup final .
"Even though I criticised him in the past, in the last year I've become his biggest fan. I thought it was outstanding that a bloke like Beaver stepped up and saved the day."
Biggest fan might be a bit of an understatement. Hori is heading a campaign to have a bronze statue of Donald erected in front of Eden Park.
"I think it's totally appropriate. If they can put a statue of Michael Jones scoring the winning try of the 1987 World Cup then I think they should have a statue of Beaver taking the winning kick to end the 24-year-long road of darkness," he said.
"Whether we like it or not, rugby is our religion. And Beaver has become a saint in my eyes."
Hori BOP had another message for rugby fans, urging them to support the ITM Cup ahead of tonight's clash with Bay of Plenty at Waikato Stadium.
"It's a financial knife edge that the ITM Cup sits on. Get out there. Bums on seats," he said.
Hori BOP is planning a tour of the country to get the message across
"People have got to get out there and support otherwise financially it could all fall over."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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