Video: Leeds Rhinos’ Grand Final-winning legend Rob Burrow speaks about his devastating Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis
SUPER LEAGUE legend Rob Burrow has pledged to tackle Motor Neurone Disease (MND) with the same tenacity he approached his glittering Leeds Rhinos career.
The sport was left reeling yesterday when Burrow, an eight-time Grand Final winner, revealed he has been diagnosed with the terminal condition, which has no known cure.
The 37-year-old plans to continue in his role as Rhinos’ reserve team coach and took training last night, just hours after revealing his diagnosis to the media.
At 5ft 4ins, Burrow was known as one of the toughest players in the game, making 492 appearances for Leeds – the fifth most in the club’s history – from 2001-2017.
Though his speech has been affected, Burrow insisted he feels fit and well and likened facing the disease to a famous on-field punch-up with Hull’s giant forward Epalahame Lauajki in a BBC-televised Challenge Cup tie.
“I will fight it all the way,” Burrow said.
“A bit like that scrap – MND is the big guy and I’m the little guy, swinging, but not reaching.
“I will certainly swing.”
Rhinos have already rallied around one of the club’s most famous, successful and popular sons.
A fund to help Burrow and his family will be officially launched next month and an online donation page (www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/robburrow) is open.
The pre-season clash with Bradford Bulls at Emerald Headingley on Sunday, January 12, will now be a benefit for Burrow, as well as his former team-mate Jamie Jones-Buchanan’s testimonial game.
Burrow, who was promoted into his latest role from academy coach at the end of last season, insisted it will be business as usual for as long as possible.
“While I am able-bodied and feel fit and strong and healthy I want to do normal things and not be treated any different,” he insisted.
“What I don’t want is pity. I think that’s the scary thing, that people feel sorry for you. I don’t want that, I just want to crack on like normal.”
Burrow and wife Lindsey have three children aged under eight and the former England and Great Britain scrum-half/hooker stressed family is his number one priority.
“I am really positive, really good considering the news,” he added.
“Apart from my voice and other bits and bats with my muscles, I feel absolutely normal.
“I am really keen to carry on as normal and just get on with life.
“Obviously this it is a big time, with people finding out, but once it dies down I am pretty keen to just get on with life.
“I’ll continue coaching to the best I can, pick the kids up from school and such.
“I feel pretty good and really positive. I am great, considering.”
Rhinos’ director of rugby Kevin Sinfield played alongside Burrow in seven title-winning teams and admitted to being “devastated” by the news.
He said: “As a club, Rob will receive our full support and we will be working with him to chart the way forward.
“The news has been a massive shock and I know it will be similar for his many former team-mates, friends and fans in the game.
“We will be developing ways we can best support Rob and his family in the future over the next few weeks and will be hoping to announce plans as soon as possible in the New Year.”