IT was just his second break for the job in 32 years of service, but 'Victor the Viking' Canberra Raiders mascot Tony Wood is ready to hit the turf again at Canberra Stadium on Sunday when the Raiders take on the North Queensland Cowboys.
Wood will once again get the Canberra crowd behind their Raiders after spending the last two months in hospital recovering from Conversion Disorder- a form of paralysis that can resemble symptoms of a stroke without a stroke having occurred.
He was covered for by the Canberra Cavalry's Josh Illusion, who acts as their mascot 'Sarge' in the Australian Baseball League across the summer months, for the first four Raiders home games of this season.
And after conceding it was "hard to take" watching Canberra's home game against the Melbourne Storm from the stands on April 20, he said he cannot wait to get back on the Canberra Stadium paddock in the viking costume again.
"After 32 years you get used to doing it, so sitting on the sideline is very abnormal," he said.
"I am looking forward to getting back out there again."
With just three wins from ten games this season, there has not been a lot for any Raiders mascot to jump, dance and cheer about so far this season, especially with just one of those wins being at home.
But given this, Wood said he had seen much worse during his enormous tenure with the club.
"The worst time was the Super League war [1997 season]. That not only affected the Raiders, but the Australian rugby league over all."
"All fans supported rugby league, but when it was a decision where you had to support one or the other [traditional competition or rogue competition, as was the case in 1997], that's not really supporting rugby league."
He backed Raiders coach Ricky Stuart to bring better results to the club, and said the players just had to adjust to change from last season.
Wood does much more than just games as Victor the Viking. He may also be seen at birthday parties, weddings, and funerals.