GIVEn he can barely remember any of Leeds Rhinos’ last meeting with Manly, Rob Burrow is desperate to create some much fonder memories this evening.
A thunderous challenge from Australian Test back-row Anthony Watmough left the diminutive scrum-half knocked out just 15 minutes into the 2009 World Club Challenge.
By the time Burrow had fully come to his senses, the NRL champions were well on their way to a 28-20 victory which was far more convincing than the scoreline suggests.
Watmough is one of eight Manly survivors from that fiery encounter at Elland Road, giving Burrow the chance for revenge tonight.
Burrow, understandably, is hoping to have more of an influence as Leeds aim to regain the title.
“I can’t remember what happened at the time,” he said.
“I watched it back later but it’s part of the game; you get knocks and get up.
“It took me a while that one but I did get up in the end.
“I’ve got knocked out loads of times and that’s just one of them,
“Manly have a massive pack and Watmough is a quality player.
“We know what they can do but it’s going to be nice to have another go at them.”
Burrow, who scored a try in Leeds’ first World Club Challenge win over Canterbury in 2005 and featured against Melbourne three years later, will be a little closer to the action as well following his recent switch to hooker.
The Manly forwards are sure to test him out defensively but, as he has proven throughout his career, he can handle any opponent.
There are huge similarities with Manly’s own coach Geoff Toovey, himself a tough former scrum-half who never shirked a challenge, and someone who has this week noted Burrow’s importance to the Leeds cause.
If the hosts can win those battles up front, it will be the elusive 29-year-old most likely to then profit around the ruck with his rapier thrusts.
Burrow, currently playing his testimonial season, admits the excitement has been increasing all week and the Super League champions feel ready to end Australia’s three-year hold on the honour.
“It’s like Grand Final week – there’s just a different buzz around,” he said.
“Right from Monday morning you could tell around the camp how big this is and the fact it’s England versus Australia makes it just more exciting.
“It’ll be fantastic to be playing at Headingley for the first time in one of these occasions too and, while we know Manly are a great side, hopefully we’re going to be the ones worrying them.”