Terry Fearnley is an Australian former rugby league footballer and later coach.
Fearnley was a long serving member of the NSWRFL's Eastern Suburbs team (1954–1955) & (1957–1964), playing 144 matches for them at a bleak period in that club's existence. Injury kept him out of the 1960 grand final, one of the few successful years the Roosters enjoyed in that period. The front rower however was selected to represent his state, New South Wales that season.
Following his retirement from the game as a player, Fearnley enjoyed a successful coaching career, taking the Parramatta Eels to their first ever grand final in 1976 and again in 1977. He had also been successful coach of the New South Wales rugby league team but stood down at the start of the 1978 NSWRFL season to concentrate on club football. Fearnley moved to coach Western Suburbs Magpies in 1982, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (1983–84) and Illawarra Steelers in 1985.
Returning to representative coaching in 1985, he was the first successful New South Wales State of Origin coach, and was also selected as Australian coach for the mid-season New Zealand Tour. It was during his tenure as Australian coach that four players, all of them Queenslanders, were controversially sacked in favour of New South Wales players, despite Australia having won the first two of the three test series. Fearnley also had a frosty relationship with Australian (and Queensland) captain Wally Lewis, with Lewis claiming that Fearnley seemed to confer on team selections with vice-captain Wayne Pearce rather than himself, claiming he had found the pair privately talking over selection of the test team in their hotel room. Dropping the four Qld players backfired on Fearnley as New Zealand defeated Australia 18-0 in the final test of the series at Carlaw Park in Auckland. The game was the first time since the final test of the 1956 Kangaroo Tour that Australia had been held scoreless in a test match.
Surprisingly the NZ tour took place while the 1985 State of Origin series was still in progress (NSW had won Origin for the first time, winning the first two games before the Australian team was chosen and went to NZ. Fearnley would later claim that the Qld players in the team were unhappy that they'd just lost the Origin series for the first time). In Game three of State of Origin that year played at Lang Park, one of the sacked players (prop-forward Greg Dowling) aimed a tirade of abuse at Fearnley from the sidelines after one of the Qld tries (Qld won the game 20-6).
It was because of the controversy surrounding the NZ tour that the Australian Rugby League instituted a new rule for National coaching: No National coach can be a current serving State of Origin coach.
- Alan Whitaker & Glen Hudson. The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players. Gary Allen Press, Australia. 1995. (ISBN 1 87516957 1)
- "Representative coach". The Sun-Herald. 19 March 1978. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
- Tait, Paul (28 February 1986). "Now Abbot attacks Fearnley". The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). p. 31. Retrieved 2010-04-21.
- The Encyclopedia Of Rugby League players; Alan Whiticker & Glen Hudson