Leeds Rhinos: Team man Burrow happy on the bench

Rob Burrow.
Rob Burrow.
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ONE-CLUB MAN Rob Burrow insists he isn’t happy to sit out the rest of his Leeds Rhinos career as a substitute.

Burrow has largely operated as a back-up hooker under coach Brian McDermott, sparking speculation he might leave to seek more game time elsewhere.

Instead, he recently signed a new two-year contract which will keep him at Headingley until the end of 2017.

“It is nice to get my future sorted,” said Burrow, who is in Rhinos’ 19-man squad for tomorrow’s derby at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats (3pm).

“I can move on now and I’m looking forward to the next two years. You take every year at a time, but I’ll be 35 when this contract finishes.

“I’ll see what happens after that, at the moment I am going to concentrate on getting to the end of this contract and then I’ll see how I feel.

“I’m at the stage where I see how I feel at the end of every year, but I’ve never wanted to leave Leeds.

“It is the only club I’ve ever played at and the only one I would ever want to play at. I’m not a Leeds lad, but in rugby terms I started from here and I want to end here.”

Of his role in the team, Burrow – who is a specialist scrum-half – said: “Obviously I want to start games.

“But you do whatever you can for the team. Wherever I am played and whatever game time I get, I am just going to go out and do my best for the team.”

Burrow has played in 15 of Rhinos’ 17 matches so far this year, but only three of those appearances have in the starting line-up.

“I think my form’s been all right,” he reflected.

“My own game can sort of depend on how the game is going.

“If I come on and we’re behind the eight-ball it is hard to make an impact, but then again, if we are on the front foot I can be effective with it.

“You have got to judge each game one at a time. The time I’ve been on, I’ve been happy. I still feel I’ve got my pace and I can be a defender and that’s all I am focusing on really.”

Burrow will be one of Leeds’ most senior players next season, after Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield and – probably – Kylie Leuluai have left the club.

He already coaches Leeds’ under-16s, who were unbeaten this year and said he is relishing more of a leadership role.

“There’ll be a massive alteration to the team next year,” he said. “It will be a big change and people like me, Mags (Danny McGuire) and Jonesy (Jamie Jones-Buchanan) will be the older ones in there.

“It is natural you just take over, because the normal voices aren’t in there.”

In the more short-term, Burrow said Rhinos are focused on getting back to winning ways tomorrow following last Saturday’s Magic Weekend loss to Wigan Warriors.

Rhinos have won just one of their last five First Utility Super League matches, but will be overwhelming favourites against bottom club Wakefield, who are on a 13-game losing run in the competition.

Burrow warned: “It will be tricky. Form is irrelevant when you play games like this.

“Certain teams play well against certain teams, no matter what form they are in.

“Wakefield at Wakefield will be a really tough game. Clubs look at Leeds, certainly on their own ground, to really kick-start their season.

“They obviously won’t be happy with their recent form, but they will see us as a great opportunity to put things right.

“They have got a new coach coming in and they will be out to impress. They will be starting afresh.”

Incoming Wakefield coach Brian Smith will be at the game and Burrow added: “We always seem to face teams when they’ve got a new coach or something’s going on.

“Things like that are a big occasion for the club and it makes us more determined, we know we have to be on our guard.

“They have another reason to be good and that will show on Sunday, so we have to be good ourselves.”

Rhinos need to get their season back on track, following the recent dip and Burrow admitted: “It is tight, not just at the top, but also getting into the eight.

“Have a couple of wins or a couple of losses and it changes miraculously. Our form hasn’t been great in the league, but we’d like to think that’s our slump done.

“We need to get back to winning ways and kick on from here. There’s no easy games and derby games are as tough as they come, so it has probably come at a good time for us I think.”

Meanwhile, former Rhinos hero Keith Senior is due to put his boots back on tomorrow. Senior has been named in a Leeds legends team to take on a Wakefield former stars side in a curtain-raiser as part of Ali Lauitiiti’s testimonial (1.30pm). The Leeds team also includes Mark Calderwood, Marvin Golden and Willie Poching, while Martin Law, Jon Wray, Gary Spencer, Gary Price, Richard Slater, Dave Wandless, Andy Wilson, Ian Jowitt, Neil Law, Chris Judge and Mark Webster are set to line up for Wakefield. The players will wear Wakefield and former Leeds star Lauitiiti’s testimonial shirt and his benefit brochure will be on sale for the first time, priced £5.

Lauitiiti will be on hand to sign copies and take orders from fans for his testimonial jersey.