FOR THE moment it is “just another game”, but Rob Burrow wants to ensure his final match is a special – and winning – occasion.
Leeds Rhinos’ veteran half-back/hooker will make his 492nd and last appearance for the club in tomorrow’s Betfred Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford.
He will hang up his boots after the game to join Rhinos’ backroom staff and says, so far, the fact his playing days are coming to an end has not sunk in.
“It just feels like the last game of the season,” Burrow, 34, said.
“It is a special week and a big build-up and it feels no different.
“I think it’ll hit me when the final whistle blows and hopefully it’s a really good reaction, rather than a disappointment.”
We’ve been lucky enough to be there more than any other team in the Super League era and if you could write an occasion it would be at Old TraffordRob Burrow
This will be Burrow’s ninth Grand Final and he has been on the losing side only once, back in 2005.
“We’ve been lucky enough to be there more than any other team in the Super League era and if you could write an occasion it would be at Old Trafford,” he said.
“Which team would I choose to play against? Why not Castleford, for a number of reasons.
“I think they deserve to be there because they have been fantastic this season and for a few years.
“It is my hometown club, where I grew up. I said that before we played them in the Challenge Cup final and won it for the first time.
“That was very fitting and hopefully Saturday will be the perfect result for us. It would be the perfect setting.
“Hopefully I can individually find a performance I’ve not found all year and the team can do the same.”
Burrow has featured just once – briefly off the bench – in Rhinos’ four meetings with Tigers this year, all of which Leeds lost.
“I really want to put in a good performance and test myself against the best,” he said.
“I’ve not been able to do that so far and hopefully I get time on the pitch to do that.”
Burrow lives in the heart of opposition territory, but revealed the reaction from people he meets in and around Castleford has been nothing but positive.
Asked if he has had any “stick” from Tigers fans, he said: “I never have done. It’s strange because when I was younger I was a Leeds fan who lived in Cas and played at Featherstone.That cocktail would never come again, but the Cas people have always been great with me. I can’t thank them enough.
“Not once do you get stick. I am really happy Cas have done well because the town needs to have a good rugby league team.
“But I would like to finish my career with a win – I wouldn’t want to finish by being beaten by my hometown club, that would be a different kettle of fish altogether.”
Burrow has twice won the Harry Sunderland award as Grand Final man of the match and scored the occasion’s greatest try in Leeds’ 2011 victory over St Helens.
“I have been lucky enough to be involved with a lot of great moments – every time we have won at Old Trafford and in the Challenge Cup final and World Club Challenge,” he recalled.
“They are all special in their own way, but when I am dead that’s probably the try they will show of me, if there’s a memory of me. That’s fine by me. I have been lucky to play with some great, great players and great teams. I am just happy to have been a cog in a successful wheel.”