What's in a name?: State of Origin's Cockroaches

By Matt Young

State of Origin mascots: The Queensland canetoad and the New South Wales' cockroach. Photo / Getty Images
State of Origin mascots: The Queensland canetoad and the New South Wales' cockroach. Photo / Getty Images

They were once the "Mighty Blues", but a clever Queenslander morphed New South Wales' noble moniker into one with slightly less appeal: The Cockroaches.

And ever since, it's stuck.

But while many may believe the nickname came from Sydney's seemingly never-ending supply of the creepy critters like its Queensland rival, the cane toad, the story of the birth of The Cockroach's nickname into Origin folklore is quite an odd story.

It all began one night in the mid-1970s, when former Queensland coach Barry Muir was watching a news report of the NSW side on TV.

As Muir watched the players' faces on the grainy footage, he noticed the antennas on the television looked as though they were protruding out of the players' heads, giving them a "cockroach-like" appearance.

And so, an epiphany was born.

"The next day, we were training at the Sydney Cricket Ground and I kept [telling the media], 'We're gonna knock the cockroaches off, we're gonna do this, we're gonna do this and give it to the cockroaches'," Muir explained on ABC Far North Queensland.

"I kept calling the New South Welshmen cockroaches and one of these Sydney reporters said, 'What's this cockroach business, Barry?'"

"I said, 'That's the new name we're giving NSW. We're sick and tired of [the] Mighty Blues and all that.

"The Sydney press caught onto it and next morning in the paper it says, 'Muir labels NSW as cockroaches'."

"That's where it started and it took off from there."

Muir can't be sure, but he thinks NSW came up with the "Cane Toad" nickname in a direct retaliation.

"[NSW great Johnny] Raper reckons he called us Cane Toads then. Whether he did or not I don't know. [Graeme] Langlands was the coach and he was a bit dirty because he knew I was born at Tweed heads (in NSW)."

Muir, who continued to live in Tweed Heads, said he didn't have a problem being a NSW resident responsible for creating the Blues' unfortunate nickname.

"They've copped it alright," Muir said of Blues fans. "They've copped it sweet. Nobody's bashed me for it."

Muir revealed when he first took over coaching for Queensland, "they didn't think they could beat New South Wales", who unlike today were considered the Gods of the sport.

"That was the inferior complex and I thought, 'Well I gotta get something into this,' so what I did is I got the hate into it.

"I said, 'You've got to hate the man you're playing against, the bloke opposite you, he's the bloke that's going to keep you out of the Australian Test jersey."

And boy, did they find their inner hate.

Tonight, former Queensland fullback Robbie O'Davis reckons all the signs are there for a repeat of the Maroons' record 52-6 demolition ahead of State of Origin II clash in Brisbane.

Only Justin Hodges, Will Chambers and Nate Myles are missing from the Queensland side that savoured the 2015 game-three romp.

A member of Queensland's most unlikely 1995 winning team, O'Davis said an almost identical Maroons team will provide a similar scoreline to seal a 10th series victory in 11 years on Wednesday night.

"This is 'The Cauldron', where the great Origin memories are made - they (NSW) are going to get flogged," O'Davis said.

"They will win by a million again."

Not if those darn Cockroaches have anything to say about it.

- news.com.au

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 29 Apr 2017 05:08:30 Processing Time: 820ms