Rob Burrow admits he is looking forward to returning to normal life after an emotional fundraising game against Bradford on Sunday.
But he insists he is not contemplating giving in, following his recent diagnosis of motor neurone disease (MND).
The former Leeds and Great Britain great struggled to contain his emotions immediately after a sold-out Headingley crowd watched the Rhinos beat Bradford 34-10 in a game that helped raise funds for Burrow and his family following the recent announcement of his illness.
A whole host of former greats, including Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Danny McGuire, briefly came out of retirement to feature in the game, and Burrow admitted: “I’m not one for the limelight. It was a big day, bigger than you can imagine.
“After this I’ve got some stuff to do on Monday, but when that settles down it’s back to normal life and I can’t wait to get back to it. Life as a dad, cleaning nappies, a bit of coaching – the sooner I can get back to that, the better. But how can you not enjoy a night like this.”
Burrow admitted he had been overwhelmed with the support of both the public and everyone in Rugby League since his diagnosis.
“It’s hard to put into words,” he said.
“I’m struggling with words anyway, but I’m overwhelmed. It really meant something to me. I went straight to the wing when we were defending, just like the good old days.”
“I was tired, but I absolutely loved every minute of it,” Burrow continued.
“You don’t know how much it means. No words will come close to describe how I feel right now. Thank you so much.”
For Jamie Jones-Buchanan, who agreed to share his testimonial game with Burrow’s fundraiser, it was also a poignant occasion.
He said: “For all the right reasons, it was the most memorable occasion of my career without a doubt. 2015 (when the Rhinos won the treble) was a symbol of what we were all about and why we were so successful. We had everything, but in particular we had team spirit.
“The way the Rugby League fraternity has come together for Rob is unbelievable. It was symbolic of what this club has been about for 20 years. It’s the most powerful moment of my career.”
Burrow said prior to the game that a visit to a research facility in Sheffield had given him a positive outlook on his MND diagnosis, and he hoped to be involved in drug trials moving forward.
“I saw a professor in Sheffield who was great,” Burrow revealed.
“There are trials going on over here, and hopefully I can get on them. He did say yesterday that I’m in the very early stages of it, which is good. The average lifespan is three years, but that’s usually in older people. Rather than three years, it’ll hopefully be nearer ten, and hopefully I’ll be on the drug trials too.
“He did confirm MND, but said some of the tests we did were borderline. He reckoned I could be alive for a few years yet. I’m not sure we’ll win the battle, but I want to be here for a long time,” he insisted.
“I want to watch my kids grow up, and my headspace is really positive. I’m determined to be here for a long time.”