Prince William leads tributes as rugby league great Burrow dies at 41

Prince William leads tributes as rugby league great Burrow dies at 41

Prince William and former teammate Kevin Sinfield led the tributes to rugby league great Rob Burrow, who died on Sunday from motor neurone disease, aged 41.

Prince William leads tributes as rugby league great Burrow dies at 41

A diminutive scrum-half at just 5ft 5in (1.65m) tall, Burrow won eight Super League championships, three World Club Challenge titles and two Challenge Cups during a legendary career with Leeds Rhinos.

The England and Great Britain international retired in 2017 after 16 years at Leeds and more than 400 appearances, but two years later was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND).

He is survived by wife Lindsey and children Macy, Maya and Jackson.

In a personally signed message on social media, Prince William said: "He taught us, 'in a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream.' Catherine and I send our love to Lindsey, Jackson, Maya and Macy."

He also lauded Burrow's "phenomenal" efforts in raising more than £15 million ($19 million) to help build a new MND care centre.

After being diagnosed, Burrow dedicated himself to raising funds and awareness for MND with the support of close friend and former Leeds team-mate Kevin Sinfield.

"Today was the day that I hoped would never come," said Sinfield, who is now the England rugby union team's skills and kicking coach.


- 'Bravest man I ever met' -

"The world has lost a great man and a wonderful friend to so, so many.

"You will continue to inspire me every single day... you were the toughest and bravest man I have ever met.

"I will miss you my little mate."

Leeds had revealed Burrows' death Sunday in a club statement: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our beloved son, husband, father, brother and friend.

"Rob has always been a true inspiration ... he never allowed others to define what he could achieve and believed in his own ability to do more."

Burrow began using a wheelchair in 2021 as his limbs weakened, but he continued to campaign.

"The worst thing for me is people pitying me," he said. "I know it's going to come, but I want to be as normal as ever."

In May last year an emotional Sinfield carried Burrow over the finish line at the inaugural Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon after his wheelchair had been pushed around the 42-kilometre (26 mile) course.

Leeds plan to recognise the achievements of both Burrow and Sinfield with a statue at Headingley.

"The outpouring of love and support that Rob and the whole Burrow family have received over the last four-and-a-half years meant so much to Rob," Leeds said.

The player of the match award at this year's Super League Grand Final will be renamed after Burrow, who was the first player to win it twice in 2007 and 2011.

The MND Association, for whom Burrow became a patron in 2021, said: "In doing so much, he inspired support from so many.

"It is testament to the strength of feeling people have for Rob that the support in his name has never wavered."

Burrow won 15 England caps and made five appearances for Great Britain.

He scored 196 tries in his peerless career, but it was the courage he showed throughout his debilitating illness that will serve as Burrow's lasting legacy.

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