Kallum Watkins in awe of “absolute warrior” Rob Burrow

Kallum Watkins and Rob Burrow Leeds Rhinos PA
Kallum Watkins (left) and Rob Burrow (right) in action for Leeds Rhinos in 2013

Kallum Watkins has paid tribute to his idol Rob Burrow, describing the Leeds legend as “an absolute warrior” who inspires him to be a better dad.

Watkins enjoyed extraordinary success alongside Burrow in the Rhinos’ iconic Band of Brothers side. They won three Grand Finals and two Challenge Cups together at Headingley.

The pair car-shared for four years at Leeds while neighbours in Pontefract, and Watkins says Burrow, now fighting the devastating effects of motor neurone disease, has had a huge impact on his life.

“Being part of that team with Rob, guys I had watched on TV since the age of five, and being part of that when they were aiming for something special was surreal,” he told this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast.

“I felt star-struck straight away, I hardly said a word to the guys I was so nervous around them. 

“I think Rob was a big shining light in terms of me being comfortable and becoming part of the team. He’s really big on that and showed what a great leader he was, but also he has that fun side to him which I really love. He loves his movies, quoting Will Ferrell and singing Michael Jackson all the time. I had some fantastic memories with Rob. 

“He inspired me to be a better dad and a petter person”

“I lived in Ponty for a while so we used to car share quite a bit. Rob was a massive help and a lot of the things we talked about wasn’t rugby. It was about life and family and it inspired me to be a better dad and a better person because he showed it in abundance. I’d pick him up from his house and he’d be ringing Lindsey asking how the kids are even though he’d only just left. 

“He was a massive family guy and what he is going through is so, so sad. I texted him a while back and he texted back asking me how I was doing like the old Rob. It is so nice to hear from him being his normal self.

“He has been an absolute warrior with everything he is doing at the minute. The support and love he has got just shows what a brilliant person he is. Funny guy too, but you wouldn’t want to cross him as he’d get you with his jokes and pranks.”

Rob Burrow v Epalahame Lauaki

Speaking on The Big Interview for this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast, Watkins also recounts how Burrow had his team-mates in stitches during a 2010 game with Hull FC when he decided to pick a fight with man mountain Epalahame Lauaki.

“Lauaki got hold of him and Rob was just swinging at him,” Watkins recalls.

“Big Keith (Senior) was having a big laugh, I remember it vividly. It was so funny. He never took a backward step and I remember him having a couple of scuffles. You wouldn’t want to mess with Rob you know he was a fiery little guy especially on that field.”

PODCAST: Kallum Watkins on playing in the pack, time in NRL & World Cup ambitions

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