Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow will begin a new chapter of his illustrious career on Friday night at the Butts Park Arena in Coventry when the side he coaches take on Coventry Bears in the latest pre-season game for the Rhinos.
The side will include a number of first-team squad members including Jordan Lilley, Ash Handley, Harry Newman, Mikolaj Oledzki, Josh Walters, Cameron Smith and Josh Jordan-Roberts along with members of the club’s under-19s squad.
Burrow retired in the perfect fashion as he lifted his eighth Grand Final title with the Rhinos, and will now embark on a new career as the head of the Rhinos’ Academy. That starts this Friday with the trip to the Midlands to face the Bears, kicking off at 7.45pm on Friday.
“I am looking forward to it,” he said. “It is a bit like when you are a player after you have been in pre-season for so long and you are desperate for a match. Without a game, it gets a bit monotonous even for the coaches! Coventry are an unknown quantity for us so we have concentrated on what we can do. We have a number of young lads in the side this year and it will be interesting to see these 16 year olds playing against men. The young lads are big and physical but naturally their game is underdeveloped and it will be a good test for them.”
Burrow has been back in pre-season with the under-19s since November and he has been impressed by his young charges. He added: “The first years have been really impressive. I remember from my early days, it is quite daunting when you are 16 training and playing against 19 year olds; it can be strange and a bit scary. But our lads have grabbed the challenge with both hands. Prop Tom Holroyd is a big unit and he looks comfortable physically, Harvey Spence reminds me a lot of Jordan Lilley, technically he is talented and his pass is good likewise Jack Broadbent and Liam Whitton are great athletes but I could go through the whole group and praise them all.
“It is early days so far but, as a coaching team, we are optimistic about this group. There are similarities with an earlier era and hopefully this can be another strong generation.”