24.09.2022
Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow tells team to enjoy every moment ahead of Super League Grand Final

Rob Burrow has a poignant message for the Leeds Rhinos players stepping out at Old Trafford for Saturday’s Grand Final.

‘None of us know what twists and turns our journey in life will take,’ says the eight-time Super League champion. ‘So make sure you enjoy the special moments when they are in front of you.’

Burrow, more than anyone, knows the importance of savouring every second.

The 5ft 5in former scrum half was in the last Leeds side to win a Grand Final in 2017. That victory over Castleford was also his final match before retiring and he ranks lifting the trophy alongside departing captain Danny McGuire as one of the proudest moments of his career.

However, just two years later, and having moved into coaching with the Rhinos academy, Burrow was tragically diagnosed with motor neurone disease. He now uses a wheelchair and has lost the ability to speak. To communicate, including for this interview, he uses a piece of technology called Eyegaze, where he controls a keyboard with his eye movement.

Yet one thing that has not changed during Burrow’s battle with the terminal illness is his passion for his former club. Immediately after the Rhinos won at Wigan in last week’s play-off semi-final, he tweeted he was ‘absolutely buzzing for the lads’.

Now, two days before he turns 40, Burrow hopes Leeds can give him an early birthday present by beating St Helens at Old Trafford. It is something he knows a thing or two about. Of the Rhinos’ eight Grand Final wins – and Burrow was involved in all of them – four came against the Saints, in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

‘The rivalry with Saints was pretty intense, but that always brought the best out of both teams when we met,’ Burrow recalls to Sportsmail. ‘I was just very fortunate to be part of that Golden Generation at Leeds and I was proud to be part of a special group of players who achieved our childhood dreams together. Those memories with my mates is what I treasure the most.’

Rhinos fans also treasure Burrow’s individual brilliance, not least his try in the 2011 final, which is widely considered the greatest ever in a Grand Final. He received the ball on the halfway line and ducked and weaved his way past five Saints players before diving under the posts. Burrow is still the only player to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy for man of the match with the unanimous vote of all 37 judges.

‘It’s hard to forget that moment, especially at this time of year when it gets played so much… not that I am complaining!’ laughs Burrow. ‘The try itself was just a bit of instinct. I always was able to play off the cuff from when I was kid, usually trying to avoid getting clattered by a bigger player!

‘I just spotted two big men and ducked between them. I was then into auto pilot and managed to get around Paul Wellens and then get to the line just before the chasing defender.’

Burrow’s moment of magic helped Leeds become the first side to lift the Grand Final trophy after finishing fifth in the table, a feat they repeated the following season. Now the class of 2022 are 80 minutes away from becoming champions from fifth again, having also won at Catalans and Wigan in the play-offs just like they did in 2012.

‘It is spooky how similar it is,’ admits Burrow. ‘Back then, we also had to go away from home in the play-offs with everyone writing us off.

‘The difference then was that we had belief we could do it having won multiple Grand Finals before. But this current group are writing their own history and clearly have a lot of belief too.

‘We always used to say, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish that counts” and they are following through that old mantra now.

‘They have done incredibly well over the last few months to turn their season around. I am particularly pleased for the young players, having worked with many of them when they first joined the club.’

Leeds’ revival has followed the appointment of Rohan Smith as boss in April, at a time when they were only a point off the bottom of the table. The Aussie is the nephew of Tony Smith, who led Burrow’s Rhinos to glory as coach in 2005 and 2007.

‘Rohan has done a great job,’ says Burrow. ‘His uncle was a wonderful coach and I loved every minute playing under him. From the outside looking in, Rohan, like his uncle, seems to have got that trust from the players. They believe in what he is asking them to do and you can see that on the field.’

Leeds have won 13 of their 18 Super League games under Smith, including nine of their last 10. Kristian Woolf’s Saints, however, topped the table in the regular season and are aiming to become the first side to win four straight Grand Finals and make it a record 10 titles altogether.

‘St Helens have been the dominant team for the last three years and have deservedly been champions during that period,’ adds Burrow. ‘But if Leeds can get the title back they will certainly have deserved it.

‘Grand Finals are tremendous occasions, especially with the army of Leeds fans trekking across to Old Trafford making a racket. Even though I won’t be at Old Trafford, I’ll certainly be there in spirit and watching on the television. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.’

Rob’s friend and former captain Kevin Sinfield will reveal on Monday his latest challenge to raise awareness and funds for the MND community, to coincide with Rob’s 40th birthday.

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    A number of Manchester United fans were seen leaving just before half-time during a frustrating afternoon that saw their side thrashed by Manchester City.

    Erling Haaland and Phil Foden both scored twice as Pep Guardiola’s side headed into the interval with a commanding 4-0 lead.

    Just before the whistle went, the Sky cameras pointed to the exit gates at the Etihad and United fans’ frustration were seen as they headed for the exit.

    Foden opened the scoring after just eight minutes as he got on the end of Bernardo Silva’s cross before Haaland doubled City’s lead with a header.

    The Norwegian striker got on the end of Kevin De Bruyne’s superb cross to make it three before Foden piled more misery on the visitors.

    As United fans headed for the exit, Gary Neville, who was on commentary for Sky, said: ‘They’ve [the United supporters] had enough.

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    Haaland and Foden went on to complete their hat-tricks in the second half but United closed the gap in the scoreline through Antony and Anthony Martial in a 6-3 loss.

    United boss Erik ten Hag was left frustrated as he admitted his players lacked belief against the reigning champions.

    ‘It was a lack of belief,’ the United manager told Sky Sports. ‘I’m surprised why we didn’t bring that on the pitch. I have seen a different team, a different spirit and a different fight… We were not brave in possession. It is always difficult to find out.

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    United will need to regroup before a Europa League visit to Omonia in Cyprus on Thursday, before travelling to Frank Lampard’s Everton next Sunday.

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    The message was clearly shown in images with Erling next to his father, Alfie Haaland, who also spent three years at Manchester City in the early 2000s.

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    Laporte retweeted the image, attaching the comment: ‘This is going to cost a lot of money in foot balls lol’.

    Whilst holding onto the matchball after scoring a hat-trick is not an official part of the rules, it is a long held tradition in football, and one which has been embraced by City’s super strikers.

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  • 55 минут назад 03.10.2022Sport
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    But after Erik ten Hag’s side conceded four goals, following a dominant first-half display from the hosts, fans have quickly called Neville out for his wild claims.

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    After City quickly dispelled Neville’s prediction, as they took a 4-0 lead into half-time with them, fans lamented the pundit for his bold claims.

    One fan wrote: ‘Gary Neville before the start of the game – City are getting done… Just like your punditry…not a blooming clue’.

    Another mentioned some his pre-match punditry by saying: ‘Gary Neville before the game started “United will be very much in this since it is away, they would counter city with both wide players”’, before adding a number of laughing emojis.

    ‘Is there a bigger jinx in world football than Gary Neville?’, one fan queried – suggesting the pundit was perhaps to blame for the result.

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  • 55 минут назад 03.10.2022Sport
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    De Bruyne assisted Haaland for two goals in the first half, as Jack Grealish ran rampant on the left wing as well, causing problems for Antony and Diogo Dalot. The right back picked up a yellow card in just the second minute.

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  • 55 минут назад 03.10.2022Sport
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    ‘It is a difficult situation when you can only pick 24 players. Our best player was the fullback in James Tedesco. We had several conversations about this. Unfortunately in this instance Dylan misses out.

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    Cook, Hynes and Edwards are three players on standby.

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  • 55 минут назад 03.10.2022Sport
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    Goals from Josh Dasilva, Mathias Jensen, Ben Mee, and Bryan Mbeumo put Brentford in control when the two side’s met in August as Thomas Frank masterminded his team to a stunning victory.

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    Victory for Guardiola’s side saw City reduce the gap between themselves and Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table to just one point, while United remain sixth in the standings, nine points off top spot.

    Man City will host Southampton in the Premier League next weekend with United seeking to bounce back with an away trip to Everton.

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Sport Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow tells team to enjoy every moment ahead of Super League Grand Final