Award is not about me, says Sinfield

Kevin Sinfield says his OBE for motor neurone disease fundraising is a team award, insisting: “We were all just trying to help a mate.”

The former Leeds star and now Rhinos director of rugby was among a number of figures from Rugby League to be recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours.

Former RFL and International Rugby League chief executive and now Bradford Chairman Nigel Wood also received an OBE, as did businesswoman and sport administrator Rimla Akhtar, who is a non-executive director of the RFL.

Stephen Ball, of the Rugby League Benevolent Fund, and Martin Blondel, from the Steve Prescott Foundation, were both made an MBE.

After his friend and former Leeds team-mate Rob Burrow was diagnosed with MND, a degenerative, life-limiting condition, in December 2019, Sinfield, who was made an MBE in 2014, set out last December to run seven marathons in seven days amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 40-year-old’s ‘7 in 7’ challenge, referencing Burrow’s old shirt number, initially hoped to raise £77,777 but generated an amazing £2.2 million.

Sinfield, who has talked about doing a walk over a “crazy distance” later this year to raise even more money, said of the OBE: “It is for all those people who have given a little bit of themselves to helping Rob and making his journey a little easier.

“Not by any stretch do I feel it’s about me, because it isn’t. It’s about everybody who has played a small part.

“I feel a bit selfish on the back of the 7 in 7, because I never thought that would give me that self-satisfaction and warm glow that I got. Ultimately we’re all just trying to help a mate, but the support was immense.

“The money we were able to generate and having a say in how that was spent has been wonderful. It’s certainly the greatest thing I’ve been a part of.”

Meanwhile Nigel Wood has revealed that he was amazed to be informed of his OBE award.

“I am surprised, humbled and extremely honoured to be recognised like this,” said Wood, who was the RFL chief executive from for twelve years and also spent six years as the CEO of Halifax.

“It has been the privilege of my life to have served the sport that I love; across a number of positions over the years. I am grateful to those who nominated me. I would like to thank my family for their enduring love and sacrifice and my friends and colleagues for their continuing encouragement and support.”

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