ROB BURROW hopes history will repeat itself in his last game of rugby league so that one of the sport’s true greats can sign off in customary style.
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Much to the chagrin of many, who argue he is still too good to even consider retiring, the dynamic Leeds Rhinos hooker steps out for his final match in tomorrow’s eagerly-anticipated Super League Grand Final.
Burrow, who will make a remarkable 492nd appearance for the West Yorkshire club, does so against favourites Castleford Tigers which brings an appropriate symmetry itself.
As he prepares for his ninth Grand Final with Leeds, Burrow conceded: “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 (for his retirement) it would be at Old Trafford.
“Which team would I choose to play against? Why not Castleford, for a number of reasons. I think they deserve to be there as they have been fantastic this season and for a few years.
“It is my home-town club, where I grew up. I said that before we played them in the 2014 Challenge Cup final and then I 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.”
Indeed, it is almost expected that Burrow puts on a show at the Theatre of Dreams; he has only lost one of those Grand Finals – in 2005 in the last all-Yorkshire affair against Bradford Bulls – and has twice won the Harry Sunderland award as man-of-the-match.
Which team would I choose to play against? Why not Castleford, for a number of reasons. I think they deserve to be there as they have been fantastic this season and for a few years.Leeds Rhinos’ Rob Burrow
When doing so in 2011, the livewire ex-Great Britain star scored arguably the greatest try in Grand Final history, a wonderful 50m solo effort that left bewildered St Helens defenders chasing shadows.
“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,” said Burrow.
“They are all special in their own way, but when I am dead that’s probably the try they will show, 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 along the way.
“I am just happy to have been a cog in a successful wheel.”
Burrow, who joins the club’s coaching team after tomorrow night, admitted he has yet to fully get his head around packing in.
“It just feels like the last game of the season,” said the likeable 34-year-old.
“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.”
Although League Leaders’ Shield winners Castleford – making their maiden Grand Final appearance – have beaten Leeds in all four meetings this term, they have barely yet come across Burrow’s famous bag of tricks.
He was sidelined by injury for three of those matches and then only came off the bench briefly during the Magic Weekend loss in Newcastle.
“I really want to put in a good performance and test myself against the best,” said Burrow, who made his first-team debut in 2001.
“I’ve not been able to do that so far but hopefully I will get time on the pitch to do it.”
Burrow still lives in Castleford but maintains he does not receive “stick” from fans around him.
“I never have done,” he said.
“The Cas people have always been great with me. I can’t thank them enough. I am really happy Cas have done well as the town needs a good rugby league team.
“But I would like to finish my career with a win; I wouldn’t want to finish being beaten by my home-town club – that would be a different kettle of fish altogether.”