David Fairleigh

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David Fairleigh
Personal information
Nickname Daisy
Born (1970-09-01) 1 September 1970 (age 46)
Wyoming, New South Wales
Playing information
Height 190 cm (6 ft 3 in)
Weight 107 kg (16 st 12 lb)
Position Second-row, Prop
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1989–99 North Sydney Bears 193 36 0 0 144
2000 Newcastle Knights 26 1 0 0 4
2001 St. Helens 27 8 0 0 32
Total 246 45 0 0 180
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1992–96 NSW City 5 0 0 0 0
1991–97 New South Wales 10 0 0 0 0
1994–96 Australia 15 2 0 0 8
Coaching information
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2009– Cook Islands 7 4 0 3 57
Source: Rugby League Project

David Fairleigh (born 1 September 1970 in Wyoming, New South Wales) is a former Australian professional rugby league footballer and current assistant coach for the North Queensland Cowboys in the National Rugby League (NRL). An Australian international and New South Wales State of Origin representative forward,[1] he played the majority of his club football in Australia for the North Sydney Bears, winning 1994's Rothmans Medal. This was followed by a season at the Newcastle Knights, and another in England at St. Helens, with whom he won the 2001 Challenge Cup Final before retiring. Since retiring in 2001 he has spent the last 15 years coaching in the NRL mainly as an assistant coach. Teams he has worked at include the Newcastle Knights, Parramatta Eels, New Zealand Warriors and Penrith Panthers.

Playing career[edit]

While attending Gosford High School, Fairleigh played for the Australian Schoolboys team in 1988.[2] He made his first grade debut for the Bears in round 17 of 1989 and for ten seasons from 1990 was a permanent first grade player and North Sydney stalwart. During this period he was consistently one of the dominant forwards in the NRL. He made his State of Origin debut in game III of 1991, Fairleigh was selected for the New South Wales team on the interchange bench. He was not selected in 1992 but appeared again in 1993 off the interchange bench in games I & II and as a prop-forward in the run-on side of game III.

He played State of Origin from 1991 to 1997, playing in 10 games. Although not selected for Origin in 1994, Fairleigh won the Rothman's Medal in 1994 for the best and fairest player in the NRL with a record tally of 33 votes. Fairleigh made his Test debut for Australian in a one-off test against France when Bradley Clyde withdrew. At the end of the 1994 NSWRL season, he was one of the first forwards selected for the 1994 Kangaroo Tour. He appeared in twelve minor tour matches and two Tests, scoring five tries on tour. He had been selected as a reserve for the second Test but withdrew on the morning of the match with a virus. He played in the third Test against Great Britain and in the sole test against France, scoring a try in the 74-0 drubbing. His Origin (and national) representative careers benefitted from the fracas of the Super League war and he appeared in all three games of the 1995 and 1997 series for a career total of ten appearances for the Blues. He was also selected in the Australian team to play against Fiji and Papua New Guinea in 1996. In 1996 he was named in the World Team and was named Dally M Second Row of the Year. He was second in the Rothmans Medal in 1996 behind teammate Jason Taylor.

Following North's merger with Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at the end of 1999, Fairleigh moved to Newcastle and was in 2000 named the club's Player of the Year, Players' Player and Coach's Player of the Year. 2001 saw him finish his club career with a season for St. Helens in England where he was named in the Super League Dream Team as well being chosen as one of St Helens 100 greatest players. The same year he played in the winning St Helens team in the 100th Challenge Cup Final against Bradford Bulls at Twickenham. As Super League V champions, St. Helens played against 2000 NRL Premiers, the Brisbane Broncos in the 2001 World Club Challenge. Fairleigh played as a prop forward in Saints' victory.

Post playing[edit]

In 2006 an expert panel of judges selected a North Sydney team of the century in which Fairleigh was selected in the starting thirteen in the second-row.[3]

Coaching career[edit]

NRL Coaching History

2002 North Sydney Bears First Division

2003-2004 Newcastle Knights Premier League

2005-2006 Newcastle Knights NRL Assistant Coach /Premier League Coach

2007-2008 Parramatta Eels NRL Assistant Coach

2009 Parramatta Eels NRL Assistant Coach /NYC Coach

2009-2014 Cook Islands Head Coach

2010-2011 New Zealand Warriors NRL Assistant Coach

2012-2015 Penrith Panthers NRL Assistant Coach

2016- North Queensland Cowboys Assistant Coach

Finals Appearances

  • Newcastle 2003, 2004, 2006
  • Parramatta 2007, 2009 Grand Final
  • Warriors 2010, 2011 Grand Final
  • Penrith 2014

Fairleigh went on to develop a comprehensive reviewing platform for games which has been used across Newcastle, Parramatta, New Zealand and Penrith, where he was employed as an assistant coach; all four clubs have reached Grand Finals across all 3 grades whilst he was there.

Fairleigh coached the Cook Islands national rugby league team in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. He spent 5 years developing Rugby League in the Cook Islands with a special focus on developing a competitive International programme. 'The Kukis' going into the 2013 World Cup Tournament had never won a World Cup match. The team lost to the USA, and Tonga, but they won their last match against the Tournament co-hosts Wales creating history for the sport of rugby league in the Cook Islands. As part of the World Cup qualification process the Cook Islands beat Samoa in a play-off to enter the Pacific Cup in 2009. The Cook Islands then went on to beat Fiji 24-22 in the Semi Final and were then beaten by Papua New Guinea in the Final. In 2016 Fairleigh took time off from coaching NRL football to give back to grassroots football. In October 2016 he was announced and unveiled as the North Queensland Cowboys new assistant coach.


  1. ^ "State of Origin player details". Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  2. ^ "SportingPulse Homepage for Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League". SportingPulse. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  3. ^ "Norths Team of the Century". 


  • Whiticker, Alan & Hudson, Glen (2006) The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players, Gavin Allen Publishing, Sydney
  • Big League's 25 Years of Origin Collectors' Edition, News Magazines, Surry Hills, Sydney

External links[edit]