Chris Gonzalez, aka Brumby Jack, goes through some warm-ups during a lunch break on the horse's birthday. Photo: Jay Cronan
Being Brumby Jack is a lifelong dream come true for Chris Gonzales, the man inside the ACT Brumbies' mascot suit.
As for his day job as a public servant in the Industry Department, well that just comes naturally to a Canberra boy.
To help whip the capital into a Brumbies frenzy before Saturday's Super Rugby grand final clash with New Zealand's Waikato Chiefs, Brumby Jack has been unmasked for the first time with special permission from the club - and the department.
The first thing you need to know about being rugby's wildest horse is it's not as easy as it looks.
''Each month, I'd say that I'd spend two to three days on this,'' Mr Gonzales said. ''I've got a very supportive wife who lets me volunteer my time to do this.
''It's very physically demanding, it's very hot in here and everything is ad lib; there's no set routine, other than the tackle bag which everyone loves and which I love.''
So popular is the match-day tackle bag ritual, when Brumby Jack puts a big hit on the training equipment, that two local rugby-mad newlyweds once got the mascot to perform the routine at their wedding.
But giving up his spare time is a labour of love for the 37-year-old bureaucrat.
''This is a lifelong dream for me,'' he says.
''If I had a bucket list, this is the No.1 thing that I'd want to tick off and I want to do this until my body can't do this any more.
''I just love putting those smiles on those kids' faces; the little kids and the big kids.''
Mr Gonzales has dedicated his performances this year to his mother and grandmother, both of whom passed away at the start of the season. Brumby Jack will not travel across the ditch for the climax of the Super Rugby season, but like most fans he'll follow the action on TV.
And his tip? ''Brums by 22. I feel a flogging coming on.''
Meanwhile, despite suggestions they would be greeted by cowbell-ringing Chiefs fans, the Brumbies made a quiet entry into enemy territory on Thursday afternoon. They arrived in Auckland after an hour delay to their flight from Sydney then travelled by bus to Hamilton.
On Friday morning they'll be joined in New Zealand by most of about 300 supporters, including 150 who will fly out of Canberra on a Virgin Australia charter flight.
In Canberra, the atmosphere will continue to build on Friday as schools and workplaces get behind the team. Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has challenged Canberrans to decorate their workplaces in Brumbies colours, offering a double season pass for the best workplace. Photos can be sent to communicationsandengagement@ act.gov.au.
ACT schools have been encouraged to ask students to wear club colours and play touch football during their breaks.