Don't mess with the chicken...

Photos by Gerard O'Brien.
Photos by Gerard O'Brien.

Animal instinct has earned Andrew James hero status.

The Dunedin resident was in character as Highlanders mascot AJ the Chicken when he tackled a streaker during the home team's victory against the Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

''I felt as a mascot it was part of my duty,'' he said yesterday. ''I had to stop him at all costs. So I gave it my all, showed some toe and managed to catch him.''

It was Mr James' first tackle and the odds were against him. Last November, he broke an ankle, which he still straps for games, and his chicken suit was made for dancing - not sprinting.

The cumbersome costume slowed his running and restricted his vision, but sheer determination paid off.

''I saw there were no security guards on him so I thought I would just do my best and try to save the day. ''I started running ... as fast as I could and then I just dove and tackled him.

''I'm actually a football player, so I was absolutely thrilled. I had my first tackle ever stopping a streaker at a Highlanders game.'' he said.

After the tackle and a ''wee breather'', Mr James returned to his role as a mascot for the remainder of the game.

He was declared player of the day by the Highlanders franchise and enjoyed a few celebratory drinks.


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