The NRL is today mourning the loss of former Australian and NSW coach Terry Fearnley, who has passed away aged 81.
Fearnley played 139 matches for Eastern Suburbs between 1954-55 and 1957-64, and coached at Easts, Parramatta, Western Suburbs, Cronulla and Illawarra. He also played one match for NSW in 1960.
Fearnley also became the first coach to win a State of Origin series for New South Wales following his team’s historic victory in 1985.
“Terry was rugby league royalty,” said NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg.
“He was a player, coach, and has always been a respected voice in the game.
“He was a wonderful contributor to the game and was also a gentleman.”
Fearnley made his first grade debut for Eastern Suburbs v. Manly at Sydney Sports Ground, 3/7/1954 (Rd 13).
He turned to coaching after retirement, assisting Jack Gibson initially and steering Eastern Suburbs to the reserve grade grand final in his first official appointment in 1974.
He joined Parramatta in 1975 and guided the Eels’ reserve grade to a premiership victory before succeeding Norm Provan as first grade coach after one season. He took the Eels to a grand final for the first time in 1976 (losing 13-10 to Manly) and again in 1977 when Parramatta went down to St George in a grand final replay (22-0) following the first drawn decider in grand final history (9-all).
He coached the Eels until 1979 and later took charge of Western Suburbs (1982), Cronulla (1983-84) and Illawarra (1988). His career winning percentage as first grade coach was 55.5%.
He coached New South Wales and Australia in 1977 and 1985, winning two series at interstate and international levels. He coached New South Wales to a State of Origin series victory for the first time in 1985 and later steered Australia to a controversial 2-1 series victory over New Zealand.
Source: David Middleton, League Information Services