Gene Thomas Fairbanks
Gene Fairbanks was a compact, nimble inside back with excellent defensive skills who progressed from national aged representation to a Wallaby jersey during the golden age of Australian rugby.
Born in Queensland’s Darling Downs, Fairbanks played his first rugby for the Goondiwindi Emus U15s and finished his secondary schooling with two seasons in the Downlands College 1st XV (1998-99). In 1998, and still in Year 11, he earned selection for Australian Schools only to be ruled out with a broken scaphoid.
After graduation Fairbanks represented Australian U19s in 2001 before he joined Queensland ahead of the 2002 Super Rugby season. A year later Fairbanks made his debut for the Reds, and scored a try, in their 19-17 win over the Crusaders at Ballymore before he went on to earn a spot in the Australian U21s at the IRB Junior World Championships. Fairbanks finished the season in fine style when he debuted for Australia in the HSBC World Sevens Series event in Dubai. Unfortunately, a broken foot suffered against Argentina at the Wellington Sevens tournament saw him miss much of the 2004 year.
During that rehabilitation period the Brumbies called and Fairbanks didn’t hesitate to accept an invitation to move south and join a squad headlined by future Wallaby Hall of Famers George Gregan and Stephen Larkham. “The senior guys included Owen Finegan, Gregan, Larkham, Jeremy Paul and many more; they were guys who brought the best out of me as a footballer, and I really grew in Canberra and enjoyed playing my footy in a great city and being part of a great Brumbies family. I loved all of my five years there, and nothing could really top that,” Fairbanks later said.
Fairbanks debuted alongside Adam Ashley-Cooper for his new side in the opening round of the 2005 season, the 32-21 win over the Crusaders in Canberra, the first of 38 caps he earned through to 2009. An impressive 2006 Australian Provincial Championship with the Brumbies saw Fairbanks chosen as one of just two uncapped players for the Wallabies end-of-season, seven match Spring Tour to the northern hemisphere. He went on to make his debut for Australia in the uncapped match against Welsh side Ospreys however Larkham, Stirling Mortlock and Scott Staniforth were preferred at inside centre across the four tests.
While Matt Giteau and Berrick Barnes dominated the Wallabies number 12 jersey over the next couple of years, Fairbanks did play for Australia ‘A’ at the 2007 Pacific Nations Cup. At the end of the 2009 season Fairbanks left the Brumbies after he received a lucrative offer to play for Honda in Japan. Fairbanks returned to Australia in 2011 when he signed with the Western Force before a collapsed disc in his lower back saw him miss the 2012 tournament. Fairbanks then enjoyed a second stint in Japan, this time for three years with Kintetsu Liners, before he retired at the end of the 2014-15 season.
Represented Australian U21s
Australia Men’s Sevens
Fairbanks played two matches on the Wallaby tour to the U.K - vs. Ospreys at Swansea (L 16-24), and vs. Scotland ‘A’ at Perth (W 44-20)