Terry Fearnley

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Terry Fearnley
Personal information
Full name Terence Colin Fearnley
Playing information
Position Front row
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1954–64 Eastern Suburbs 144 7 2 0 25
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1960 New South Wales 1 0 0 0 0
Coaching information
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1976–79 Parramatta Eels 101 68 4 29 67
1982 Wests 27 16 0 11 59
1983–84 Cronulla Sharks 50 22 1 27 44
1988 Illawarra Steelers 22 6 1 15 27
Total 200 112 6 82 56
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1977,1985 New South Wales 5 4 0 1 80
1977, 1985 Australia 12 10 0 2 83
Source: Whiticker/Hudson

Terry Fearnley is an Australian former rugby league footballer and later coach.

Playing career[edit]

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.[1]

Coaching career[edit]

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.[2] 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 (Chris Close, Mark Murray, Greg Dowling and Greg Conescu) were controversially sacked in favour of New South Wales players (Steve Ella, Des Hasler, Peter Tunks and Benny Elias), 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 to close friend and fellow Maroon Paul Vautin (who had not been dropped) that Fearnley seemed to be confering on team selections with vice-captain Wayne Pearce (who was also the new NSW captain following Steve Mortimer's representative retirement) rather than himself, claiming he had found the pair privately talking over selection of the test team in Fearnley's hotel room, though this is disputed by Pearce who claimed he was there for different reasons. 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. It was the first time since the final test of the 1956 Kangaroo Tour that Australia had been held scoreless in a test match.

Queensland Rugby League Chairman, Senator Ron McAuliffe, would publicly condemn the dropping of the four Queensland players from a winning test side, saying "Its a football assassination and beyond all reasoning. And there can be no reasonable excuse for it".

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, but later admitted that he didn't handle the situation as well as he could have. In Game three of State of Origin that year played at Lang Park, one of the sacked players, Maroons prop Greg Dowling, aimed a tirade of abuse at Fearnley from the sidelines after one of the Qld tries. Queensland went on to win the dead rubber game 20-6. NSW captain Steve Mortimer, who announced his representative retirement following the Blues win in Game 2 of the Origin series at the Sydney Cricket Ground, later regretted his decision. After clearly out-playing Qld half Mark Murray, he was in line for a test recall against the Kiwis and as team vice-captain he felt he could have used his personal friendship with both Fearnley and Lewis to ease tensions on the tour.

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, though they were still allowed to be the current coach of a club side.

Following his retirement as a coach, Fearnley wrote an article for Rugby League Week that was highly critical of Wally Lewis' captaincy. This gained him a rebuke from ARL officials.[3]


  1. ^ Alan Whitaker & Glen Hudson. The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players. Gary Allen Press, Australia. 1995. (ISBN 1 87516957 1)
  2. ^ "Representative coach". The Sun-Herald. 19 March 1978. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  3. ^ 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