Unfortunately, the rugby world is becoming all too familiar with Motor Neurone Disease given how many tragic diagnoses there have been over the years. Leeds legend and all-round world-class human being Rob Burrow is the latest to come out and say that he has, regrettably, been diagnosed with the disease. 


MND is a progressive disease of the nervous system, which causes the nerves around the spine and brain to stop functioning over time. The ultimate problem is that there isn’t yet a cure, which does illustrate how grave the diagnosis can be. 

But instead of mourn, we will instead draw strength from Burrow’s current positivity and look back fondly on the career of a one-club man who also went on to achieve the ultimate honour, representing one’s country. 

Having spent his entire career with the Leeds Rhinos, Burrow went onto amass 492 caps for the West Yorkshire side. The accolades don’t stop there as the 37-year-old also won an incredible eight Super League Grand Finals, his last coming in 2017 after the Rhinos beat the Castleford Tigers. It certainly wouldn’t be far fetched to say that the diminutive Burrow was indeed a driving force for the most successful time in the club’s history. 

Burrow’s club form was soon picked up by England, with the man born in Pontefract going on to earn 15 caps for his country and five caps for Great Britain. After retirement, Burrow went into management and is now the Leeds Rhinos reserve team head coach. Needless to say, the 37-year-old has had to roll up his sleeves with the going getting a little tougher for the Leeds Rhinos over the last couple of seasons. 

In fact, it’s not a surprise to see the relative demise of the Rhinos coincide with Burrow’s retirement. The Leeds Rhinos were never at 10/1 in rugby league betting to win the Grand Final as they are now, when the stocky 5 ft 5 hooker was calling the shots on the field of play. Far from it in fact and, objectively, the standards of the Rhinos were the highest they had ever been when Burrow was there.

Looking back on it now, when legends like Rob Burrow call it a day and retire – or any stalwart in a particular industry for that matter, you’ll often hear something along the lines of “they don’t make them like that anymore.” For the most part, that probably does adequately describe the person that they are talking about, but in Rob Burrow’s case, it is absolutely the truth. Players, and managers, like him come along once in a generation and, when they do, you wish that they were playing for your club, luckily for fans of the Leeds Rhinos, that was their reality for 16 glorious years. 

A legend both on and off the field, and with a career that most pros could only dream of once their heads hit the pillow in the evening, the world of rugby league salutes a warrior who always overcame the challenges in his way. Undoubtedly, the greatest fight of his life now lays ahead of him, but the world will never forget the history that lays behind him.