Rob Burrow through the years: How every Leeds Rhinos coach brought the best out of legendary star

Rob Burrow Leeds Rhinos Alamy

Rob Burrow in action for Leeds Rhinos in 2015

Rob Burrow enjoyed a distinguished 17-year career at the highest level, and we’ve taken a look at how each Leeds Rhinos coach brought the best out of him.

The Pontefract-born star made 492 appearances for the Rhinos between 2001 and 2017.

Burrow won everything there was to win in the game, with eight Super League titles, two Challenge Cups, three World Club Challenges and three League Leaders’ Shields to his name.

Burrow won 18 caps on the international stage for Great Britain and England, representing his country in the 2013 World Cup.

How Rob Burrow flourished under every Leeds Rhinos coach

The little magician played under sseveral head coaches during his time at Leeds, so we’ve taken a look at how each of them got on…

Daryl Powell

Daryl Powell Leeds Rhinos SWpix Daryl Powell was head of Leeds between 2001-03

Rob Burrow made his Rhinos debut in April 2001, as an interchange in a Super League clash against Hull FC. It’s safe to say that eyebrows were raised when he first entered the scene. Burrow was a half-back, filling in in the scrum-half position. 

His debut actually came under Dean Lance, who was sacked following the game, pathing the way for Powell to take the reins at Headingley. 

Powell gave Burrow a start in his first game as head coach, and Burrow scored the Rhinos’ only try of the game. 

This was a sign of things to come, and Burrow would go on to play in 17 games that season, scoring seven tries along the way.

Burrow would continue to grow into his role at scrum-half under Powell, over time establishing himself as one of the first names on the team sheet. 

Burrow was joined in the side by Kevin Sinfield and Danny McGuire, as Powell blooded the young talent the Rhinos had, who went on the be known as the club’s golden generation. 

2003 was Powell’s last season in charge at the club, and Burrow was handed the number seven shirt that season. A clear statement from Powell that Burrow was ready to become a regular feature in a Rhinos side which was getting better by the minute.

Tony Smith

Tony Smith Leeds Rhinos SWpix Tony Smith was in charge of the Rhinos between 2004-07

After Powell had developed the likes of Burrow, the man tasked with taking them to the next level was Tony Smith. 

Smith described Burrow as electric and in the 2004 season he would be part of the Rhinos team who would end 32 years of hurt, by winning the Super League Grand Final. 

Burrow was now a key player in a team which seemed to be guaranteed to challenge for silverware every season. 

2005 saw Burrow’s side reach Old Trafford yet again, this time they fell to a defeat to the Bulls, but it was clear to see that Leeds had developed into a team who were a force to be reckoned with.

Burrow was part of the spine that the side was built around, along with Sinfield and McGuire.

Smith saw Burrow as a player who was capable of turning a game around, being the spark to the Leeds side which was well managed on the field by Sinfield and McGuire; Burrow was part of the three who made the Rhinos tick.

The Rhinos returned to Old Trafford again in 2007, as they faced St Helens in the Grand Final that year. 

This was a Rhinos team who had grown since the defeat to Bradford two years previous, the spine remained the same, but Smith had coached them to be more mature as a team.

Burrow was still Smith’s scrum-half, however he had grown into a more rounded player, who understood the role he played in.

He was still capable of playing off-the-cuff, but he had learned how to manage a game, a skill which was vital for his role.

Burrow knew when to start one of his winding runs which terrified defences, but he also knew when to put a kick in behind the oppositions defence as Leeds controlled games. 

This is exactly what he did in the Grand Final, as the Rhinos picked up their second title, picking up the Harry Sunderland Trophy along the way.

Burrow was named the Rhinos Player of the Year in 2007, which was Smith’s final year in charge at the club.

Brian McClennan

Brian McClennan Leeds Rhinos SWpix Brian McClennan was head coach of the Rhinos between 2008-10

Rob Burrow was now one of Leeds’ star men, and retained his place in the side under new head coach Brian McClennan.

Leeds had become the elite team in the Super League and went on to win another two titles in 2008 and 2009. 

Burrow was central to this, along with his half-back partner McGuire, McClennan’s side went on to become the league leaders for only the second time in 2009.

A fan favourite at Headingley, Burrow seemed to be untouchable in the Rhinos side. 

Brian McDermott 

Brian McDermott Rob Burrow Danny McGuire Leeds Rhinos SWpix Brian McDermott was at Headingley between 2011-18

McDermott’s arrival at Headingley saw Burrow’s role for the first time in his 10 years at the club. 

The term ‘super sub’ was thrown about a lot during this season, which saw Burrow move to play at hooker, usually off of the bench.

It was a decision that Burrow, and his team-mates didn’t agree with, however Burrow made the role his own. 

The end of the 2011 campaign saw an upturn in form for the Rhinos, and Burrow was a key part of it. 

Coming off of the bench as sides were tiring saw Burrow tear defences apart, in the play-off series that year he was key to firing Leeds towards Old Trafford. 

He set up and scored a try in the win over Warrington Wolves in the semi-final, before that famous performance in at Old Trafford against St Helens. 

The next few years would see Burrow remain in this role, and he had become a recognised hooker in the Super League. 

In 2014, Burrow finally got his hands on the Challenge Cup, the only trophy which had eluded him and his Rhinos team-mates. 

A kick which was collected by McGuire before touching down showed the maturity which Burrow had, he had learned the game and was able to channel his experience into his performances. 

2015 was a historic year for McDermott’s side as the Rhinos won the treble. It was an achievement which marked the end of Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai’s stays at the club. 

From 2016 Burrow was one of the clubs most experienced players, alongside McGuire. 

After a year to forget in 2016, Burrow announced that 2017 would be his last.

He and McGuire both bowed out on a high, the duo had guided the younger and more inexperienced players at the club to another win at Old Trafford, beating local rivals Castleford 24-6.

Over the years, Burrow’s role at the club changed, but it’s fair to say that the quality and effort was always there.

Rob Burrow, along with his team-mates performed for every coach who was at the club during their time there and will be remembered as one of the best sides which the sport has seen.

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