The Garry Schofield column: Remembering Rob Burrow in such a very special way

FROM the moment I walked through the Sharman Gates on entering Headingley to leaving to leaving a few hours later, Friday night was a very special night of celebration in memory of the great Rob Burrow.
The way that Leeds Rhinos, Sky, the fans and the Leeds team took hold of the occasion in tribute to the Little Master made me feel proud to be there, as I’m sure it did with almost 18,000 other people who were also at Headingley.
And, to cap it all, no one expected Leeds to beat Leigh, but they got the victory by playing better than they have done for an awful long time.
Last week the club gave the fans what they wanted, the departure of Rohan Smith, who just hadn’t been able to get the best out of his players.
As regular readers of this column will know, I am very much hoping that Ian Blease will bring Paul Rowley to Leeds and that he will be able to get the best out of the players on a consistent basis.
Leeds is not just a community club, it’s a big city club. When Richard Agar was asked to take the job on a few years, he asked me whether I thought the job would be too big for him.
I told him that Leeds only ask once and you have to jump at the opportunity. They won’t come knocking at the door again, so jump at the chance and bring everything you have to the job.
Get the best out of the players and bring some consistency to the team.
On Friday night the players were fired up, without a doubt. They could sense the emotion of the occasion and the fans willing them on to victory for Rob.
And Rob would have wanted us to be here with a smile on our faces. We all knew the day would come when he would leave us, but he would have been urging the team to get the win, first and foremost.
Fortunately they did. His family was smiling, it was a great night and I’m proud to say that I was there.
And you have to take your hat off to Sky, to Brian Carney and everyone who was involved with them, for paying a wonderful tribute that was perfectly done.
It started at 7.00pm and the fans were there in time.
In fact I was at Headingley at 5.00pm and you could sense then that the pubs were all busy at that time. And when the presentation started, it was magnificent.
And the Leigh fans played their part with the respect they gave to Leeds and the Burrow family. They have to be respected.
Brodie Croft decided to take the game by the scruff of the neck and he gave a great performance, as did so many other Leeds players. But why do we have to wait for an emotional night like that to get the best out of the players? And have Leeds now turned the corner?
It’s about hitting eight or nine out of ten from now on.
All the players have to start looking at themselves in the mirror. They could have played a lot better under Rohan Smith, but they didn’t and they got him the sack.
Leigh’s defence was poor for Brodie Croft’s first try and perhaps they came into the game too confident. They were nowhere near as good as they were the previous week at Catalans.
Adrian Lam would be very disappointed. Their defeat may have cost Leigh any chance of getting into the top six, especially when you think their next game is against Wigan.

I’m not sure what Shaun Wane’s policy will be in relation to selecting the England team to play France in Toulouse on Saturday.
I have read in some places that he will favour giving opportunities to some younger players, rather than necessarily selecting his strongest team.
But I hope he won’t be giving easy Test caps away.
I don’t see the point of that and I’m not sure it would benefit anyone.
But then again I wonder how seriously anyone is taking this game.
When I look at the publicity and promotion, does anyone know it’s going on?
Whatever side Shaun picks, I fear that England will be far too strong for France.
England beat France 64-0 last year and once again I just can’t see France being competitive.
They have a handful of players who can handle Rugby League at the highest level for a short period of time but they don’t have enough good players to trouble England.
We all know Shaun Wane’s passion. It will be very easy for England after the first 25 minutes. There should be a 40-point victory for England at the very least.
Shaun won’t announce his squad until Monday, but in terms of the individual selections, I hope James Harrison of Warrington gets a start, because he has been a very strong frontrower this season.
At halfback, I don’t think Shaun will go for Marc Sneyd, despite him playing so well for Salford. I think he will go for Matty Lewis and George Williams.
And I can envisage a back line of Jack Welsby, Matty Ashton, Toby King, Jake Wardle and Liam Marshall.
In the forwards I expect to see Harrison, Daryl Clark, Luke Thompson, Liam Farrell, Junior Nsemba and Elliot Minchella
Minchella is playing like an old-fashioned loose forward, while Nsemba is one of the most exciting forwards to come onto the scene in recent years and I can see him being given his opportunity on Saturday night.

It’s the second game of this year’s State of Origin series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday after Queensland hammered the Blues in Sydney.
The Blues need to win it and they will be fired up under former Wigan coach Michael Maguire.
The Maroons, however, are a great side. how good has Billy Slater been as their coach?
His secret is just good man management. He lets them go out there and express themselves.
I must say I can’t wait for it and I’m looking forward to cheering on the Blues.
I’m a Blues fan because I lived in Sydney when I played in their competition and I hope they will take it to a decider in three weeks’ time.
But I fear that the Maroons may have too much quality, although the Blues have brought Latrell Mitchell back into the team and Dylan Edwards will play at fullback. That will be good for the Blues because he brings more variation than Tedesco does, and we all know how good Latrell can be when he plays at his best.
My heart says the Blues, but my head says the Maroons.
This time next year I’ll be over there watching State of Origin live to celebrate my 60th birthday.
I spoke to the NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden and told him I’m coming out and he couldn’t be more accommodating, promising to get some tickets sorted out and that he’ll put a function on for me.
The Aussies certainly know how to treat their former players.


First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,436 (June 24, 2024)

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