Leeds Rhinos coach Richard Agar believes brave Rob Burrow inspired his team to last Thursday’s 18-12 Super League win over Huddersfield Giants.
The club legend, who has been so cruelly struck by motor neurone disease, was the guest of honour and received a rousing reception when he appeared on the Emerald Headingley pitch before kick-off alongside his wife Lindsey.
Speaking via a communication aid because the condition has now robbed him of his voice, the 38-year-old told spectators: “I’m fighting my biggest opponent yet, but no matter how it affects me, I will never give in.”
Burrow’s three children – daughters Macy and Maya and son Jackson – then delivered the match ball to referee Ben Thaler as the crowd chanted their father’s name.
“I think he did inspire the team,” said Agar, whose side was severely depleted by injuries and suspensions.
“As I came up the tunnel beforehand, Rob gave me a big wink and a smile. It was just great, and the reception he got was expected but still very emotional.
“I thought his children bringing the ball on and waving to the crowd was a really special moment. It’s one to savour.
“The montage they put together on the screen and his words were very poignant but it just showed the strength of character that he’s had with his illness.”
The emotional BBC documentary ‘Rob Burrow: My Year with MND’, which was first aired in October 2020, has made the shortlist in the inaugural Authored Documentary category for the National Television Awards in London on Thursday, September 9.
Votes from the public will determine the various winners and can be cast free online at www.nationaltvawards.com or by phone on 0905 647 2021 (calls cost 25p per minute, plus network access charge, and should last no longer than seven minutes).
Votes must be made by midday on September 9.
Meanwhile, Leeds plan to erect a statue of Burrow and Kevin Sinfield, both of whom they term “two of the club’s greatest ever servants” at Headingley.
The pair won seven Super League titles and two Challenge Cup crowns together at the club between 2004 and 2015.
Leeds have appealed to fans to help raise £100,000 to fund the statue, which would sit in a corner of the stadium, looking down onto the pitch, and would join that of John Holmes, Leeds’ record appearance maker, which was erected earlier this summer.
Sinfield recently left Leeds after three years as director of rugby to become defence coach at rugby union club Leicester Tigers.
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