12 January 2020 20:37
Sign up to FREE daily email alerts from Mirror - Rugby Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email Fans gave an "unbelievable" show of support to rugby legend Rob Burrow at a sell-out benefit game. The scrum-half superstar of the Leeds Rhinos was recently diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, which has no cure. The rugby league hero has been told he could live up to 10 years and is hoping to become eligible to take part in trials for new treatments. An appeal to help Rob through treatment has now raised an incredible £232,000 on Virgin Money Giving. The match against Bradford Bulls - which Leeds won 34-10 - was initially scheduled as a testimonial for Burrow's former teammate Jamie Jones-Buchanan but after the news of his diagnosis it was made a joint event.
Burrow, 37, who has three young children all under nine, retired from rugby league in 2017. (Image: SkySports) His final game saw him winning his eighth Super League Grand Final. He is now the club's Reserve team Head Coach. At Emerald Headingley, the former England half-back, donned the Leeds shirt for one final match and was overwhelmed by the 20,000 strong crowd. Addressing the crowd after the game Burrow said: "It meant absolutely everything.
"To be out there with all my mates again was an unbelievable feeing, I was so proud to do it. (Image: Thomas Gadd/PRiME Media Images) (Image: Thomas Gadd/PRiME Media Images) "I was tired but I absolutely loved every minute. "You don't know how much it means - no words can ever come close to describing how I feel." Former Leeds Rhinos and England captain Kevin Sinfield, told how his pal was an "inspiration". He said: "What Rob's facing is going to be one hell of a challenge but I think what's pretty clear is that he's not going to do it alone, there's going to be an army of rugby league fans alongside him every step of the way. "And on behalf of the club, and on behalf of Rob and his family, I can only thank them for that because they've made a real difference to him. (Image: PA) (Image: Anna Gowthorpe/BPI/REX) "And that isn't financial – I know the financial response has been unbelievable – but the messages of support he's had, the messages we've all had, from people of all clubs from the game, from administrators, coaches, players, supporters, from people outside the sport as well, it has been just unbelievable. "I think he's faced some difficult times before, probably none so difficult as what he's facing now. But he's always fronted up. He's always seen the positive. "He's always pulled himself together and dusted himself off and decided: 'I'm going to make the best of this.' And it's been truly inspirational for all of us to see. "We just didn't expect this reaction from him, not to be as positive as he is. It's remarkable. (Image: Getty Images) "We are all truly inspired by the way he has conducted himself. Attitude's a brilliant word because he's been a giant through this." "There's absolute respect for him. Off the field, he's the nicest bloke you could meet, he's very respectful, he's funny, he's honest, he's a big family man, and that's why the response has been so big, because he is hugely, hugely respected. "There are just that many people who want to help, it's brilliant. That's why the game in the short term was a way of saying to people: 'Let's get together and celebrate Rob's career, let's celebrate Rob as a man.' "And that's not forgetting Jamie Jones. Jamie's had a remarkable career and fully deserves the support as well. "When we heard of the diagnosis, the first thing was to think: 'What can we do, how can we help?' It was mentioned to Jamie about this game and he absolutely snapped our hands off at the chance to share it with Rob." An emotional Rob Burrow seemed stunned by the level of support from the crowd when he walked onto the pitch with son Jackson before the game Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow struggled to hold back the tears at a special fundraising match in front of almost 20,000 fans following his diagnosis with motor neurone disease. Burrow, 37, who found out he had the incurable disease in December, walked onto the pitch with his three children before kick-off against Bradford Bulls. He then came on for an emotional final five minutes. "I was tired but I absolutely loved every minute," he said at full-time. "You don't know how much it means. No words will come close to describing how I feel right now. Thank you so much." MND is a degenerative condition that affects how nerves in the brain and spinal cord function. Burrow's long-term Leeds team-mate Jamie Jones-Buchanan agreed to share his testimonial game against Bradford, with proceeds from the match split between the two. A crowdfunding page set up for former England international Burrow has so far raised more than £245,000. Leeds were comfortable 34-10 winners in an entertaining game in which Papua New Guinea international Rhyse Martin scored two tries and kicked five goals, but the result was of secondary importance. Rob Burrow was overwhelmed by the deafening reaction from fans before, during and after the game Burrow added: "It's hard to put into words. I've been struggling with my words anyway. I'm overwhelmed and humbled. It really meant something. "In rugby league we stay together and look after our own. Today was an example of what our game is all about. "I'm not one for the limelight but it's been a big day. After this I've got some stuff tomorrow and when that settles it's back to normal life. That's changing nappies and a bit of coaching and the sooner I get back to that the better. But how can you not enjoy a day like today." Bulls agreed to donate their share of receipts from the match to the fund set up to raise money for Burrow's family. Jones-Buchanan, who spent 20 years as a Rhinos player, also came on in the closing stages, as did numerous legends from both sides, including Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai, Danny McGuire, Robbie Hunter-Paul, Stuart Fielden and Nathan McAvoy. Burrow won eight Grand Finals, three World Club Challenges and two Challenge Cups in 17 years with the Super League side before retiring in 2017.