Rob Burrow MBE - Leeds Rhinos legend honoured for services to rugby league and MND community

Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow says he is “humbled” and “privileged” after being recognised in the New Year’s Honours.

The 38-year-old former player has been made an MBE for services to rugby league and the motor neurone disease (MND) community.

Pontefract-born Burrow played 492 times for Rhinos from 2001-2017, winning eight Super League Grand Finals, the World Club Challenge and league leaders’ shield three times and two Challenge Cups.

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His illness, which was diagnosed 12 months ago, has created national headlines and led to a huge increase in donations and enquiries to the MND Association charity.

Rob Burrow in front of a mural of him at Leeds University. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“It is truly humbling to be awarded the MBE and I would like to thank everyone who has made this possible,” Burrow said.

“2020 has taught us all to appreciate the gifts we have and it is my honour and privilege to accept this award on behalf of all the MND community.

“I hope it gives people hope that we are not ignored and the drive for more research and support to end MND will not stop.”

Burrow paid tribute to his “team mates, coaches and opponents throughout my playing career”, adding: “They shaped me into the man I am.

Rob Burrow scores for Rhinos in their 2015 Wembley win over Hull KR. Picture by Steve Riding.

“The way the rugby league community has come together over the last 12 months to support me and my family speaks volumes about how special our sport is.”

Burrow also dedicated his honour to wife Lindsey and young children Macy, Maya and Jackson.

“I would like to thank my family, I know they have always been proud of me,” Burrow said.

“This MBE is for them and I am looking forward to making another special memory when I am able to receive the award.”

Burrow’s former captain - and now Rhinos’ director of rugby - Kevin Sinfield, who is also an MBE, was “absolutely delighted for him, Lindsey, the kids and his mum and dad”.

He said: “His playing career speaks for itself, he was a wonderful player, an absolute champion.

“Off the field he has been a true friend, a great teammate and what he has done the last 12 months, in fighting like he has and inspiring like he has, he absolutely deserves it.”

Earlier this month Sinfield ran seven marathons in successive days as a tribute to Burrow, raising more than £2.6m.

That was just one of a host of fund-raising initiatives inspired by Burrow, who was also yesterday inducted into Rhinos’ Hall of Fame.

Speaking earlier this year, Ian Gardner, the MND Association’s head of development, said: “We are very appreciative of what Rob and his family have agreed to do.

“When somebody who has got a high profile is prepared to be open about their diagnosis and their journey with MND - and actually wants to go the extra mile to demonstrate what the disease is all about - that gives confidence and support to other people.”

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