Rob Burrow won eight Super League titles in a trophy-laden career for the Leeds Rhinos; He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019 but believes there is still a lot of work to be done to fully understand its causes and has campaigned for more research.
Last Updated: 12/10/22 5:49 pm
Rob Burrow said he has no regrets about playing rugby and won’t stop his children from following in his footsteps despite his battle with a motor neuron disorder.
The former Leeds and UK player is now confined to a wheelchair and unable to perform basic functions without assistance as motor neurone disease increasingly takes over his body.
Former rugby players are 15 times more likely to develop MND than the general population, according to a new study, but Burrow, who was diagnosed in December 2019, is not entirely convinced. by these findings.
“It’s such a small sample so I can’t really comment,” Burrow said.
“More research needs to be done.”
Burrow, who has won eight Super League titles in his glittering career with Rhinos, insists he won’t change a thing from his past and will be happy when the Macys (10), Maya (7) and Jackson (3) studied football.
“I want my kids to play whatever sport they want,” he says using eye-recognition technology.
“There is no evidence that anything causes MND. I think I was unlucky enough to have the disease.
“The positives outweigh the negatives. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my rugby experience, friendships and attachments, and life experience, traveling the world.”
Rob and his wife Lindsey, who care for her husband full-time despite having to look after their three young children and keep a job as a physiotherapist, are participating in a documentary to highlight their shared life. What it’s like to have a motor neuron disorder, with Burrow insisting he “doesn’t give in, until I take my last breath” because he has “too many reasons to live”.
“I was a prisoner in my own body, that’s how the MND got friends. The lights were on but no one was at home,” Burrow said.
Lindsey also shared about the hardships her family had to go through and reflected on a future without her childhood lover.
“I’m out of my comfort zone, but at the end of the day it’s not about us,” she said.
“The reason for doing this is to raise awareness about how brutal, barbaric and brutal the Defense Forces are and how it affects not just one person, it affects the whole family.
“I did an interview that is nothing compared to what Rob and many other sufferers go through, it puts it into perspective and if we can help another person or raise more awareness and more money for research, that can only be a good thing.
“It’s really hard doing those interviews, but I don’t want people to be upset.
“Yes, it’s a sad story, but there’s also a lot of hope in it, seeing the kids and them seeing how much they love life.”
Sinfield: Rugby league is safer than ever due to protocols
Burrow’s former teammate and close friend Kevin Sinfield says the rugby union’s evolving protocols have made the sport “safer than ever” despite ongoing concerns on the long-term effects of head impact.
Sinfield’s comments come hours before a group of more than 75 former players began suing the Rugby Football Federation (RFL), alleging negligence in its failure to take “reasonable action” to protect against football. irreversible neurological conditions.
The former Leeds Rhinos star will embark on his latest challenge to raise funds for motor neuron disease research and will run seven consecutive super marathons, starting in Edinburgh and finishing at the final Rugby League World Cup in Manchester.
He told BBC Radio Four’s Desert Island Discs: “I think with the medical advances in sport and the way they’re managed, the players are being looked after better than ever before.
“Regulators have worked really hard to eliminate as many head collisions as possible, and then how these head collisions are monitored and cared for, the protocols in place today better.
“I’d say it’s safer now than ever to play sports.
“However, there will continue to be head bumps. If we remove all contact with rugby and it turns out to be something very different from what it looks like today, we would have a lot of people stopped playing.”