It’s a call that’s become synonymous with both the concept and legend of State of Origin, while also proving how much the game has changed.
Coined by former New South Wales player and coach Tommy Raudonikis, the call of ‘cattle dog’ was employed by the New South Wales side in the 90s in order to halt the momentum of the game.
While it sounds innocent enough, the method in which it was employed wasn’t exactly of an orthodox manner.
According to nib Newcastle Knights legend Tony Butterfield, it’s a call he became all too familiar with.
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Butterfield only made the one Origin appearance, the 1998 decider, with Raudonikis at the helm as coach.
“Tommy was renowned for the ‘cattle dog’ call, and the cattle dog call was synonymous with the stink,” Butterfield told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
“If the call goes up from the bench that cattle dog’s on, you’ve got to respond.
“As we’re packing a scrum, the call comes out that cattle dog’s on.”
With Butterfield packing down in the front row, and Queensland forward Andrew Gee his opposite, the unfortunate responsibility fell on his shoulders to initiate a brouhaha.
“I had a chat to the boys in the back-row and they were keen, I had a chat to Beaver Menzies, but I don’t think he was that keen,” Butterfield laughed.
“So, we’re packing in, but Bill (referee Bill Harragon) heard that cattle dog was on and knew it was just about to blow up.
“So, Bill looked at me and said, ‘Tony, if you throw one punch, I’ll send you’.”
With Butterfield not keen to be sent off in his debut Origin game, the scrum packed down and broke up without incident.
Raudonikis was not happy.
“I told Tommy he was going to send me off, but he said he would’ve rather me get sent off,” Butterfield said.
“I preferred to not leave us a man short, and it was my call at the time and Tommy didn’t like it.”
While the story seemed to end there, it stunningly came full circle in 2008 when Butterfield was asked to fight Gee in a professional boxing bout.
Butterfield took the win in a points decision after going three rounds with Gee, and a familiar face was ringside to witness it.
“Once I had the hand raised, I looked down and saw Tommy yelling cattle dog!” Butterfield said.
“He was sitting right on the apron there, with his blue shirt on and he was cheering.
“For me it closed that little chapter because we didn’t win on the night, but we atoned down the track.”