Rob Burrow’s 7 greatest rugby league moments

Ben Olawumi
Rob Burrow

Rob Burrow celebrates Leeds Rhinos' 2012 Super League Grand Final triumph

Rugby league has lost a true legend in every sense of the word in Rob Burrow. Everyone will forever remember the boy from Pontefract that became an icon of the sport.

Burrow, of course, will forever remain an inspiration for the way he & his loved ones dealt with his MND diagnosis, raising millions and bringing further awareness to the cruel disease in the process.

Below, we take a look at just seven of the many, many great rugby league moments the Leeds Rhinos legend brought to our eyes…

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2004: Leeds’ first title in 32 years

Leeds Rhinos, 2004
Leeds Rhinos lift the Super League title in 2004

Burrow debuted at first-team level for the Rhinos in 2001, named Super League’s Young Player in his first season in amongst it at senior level. By 2004, he’d played a key role in delivering the club’s first league title for 32 years and their first-ever of the Super League era.

He missed just one game that season across all competitions, scoring 13 tries – including a brace in Round 1 against London Broncos – and kicking 11 goals. Tony Smith’s side beat Bradford Bulls 16-8 in the Grand Final, with Burrow appearing off the bench.

2007: His first Harry Sunderland Trophy

Leeds Rhinos, 2007
Leeds Rhinos lift the Super League title in 2007

Three years later, Leeds triumphed at Old Trafford oncemore, beating St Helens 33-6 to seal a second Super League title. Burrow had been named as the Rhinos’ Player of the Year prior to the Grand Final and had made the Super League Dream Team, too, emphasising just how he’d shone throughout the campaign.

And he topped it off with a man of the match showing in the Grand Final, on the scoresheet with a drop goal as he was awarded the Harry Sunderland Trophy for the first time. Starting in this year’s Old Trafford showpiece, aptly, that honour will now be called the Rob Burrow Award.

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2007: Player of the Series against the Kiwis

Rob Burrow, 2007
Rob Burrow in action for Great Britain during a test series against New Zealand in 2007

On the back of a ridiculously good season at club level, Burrow shone on the international front as he helped Great Britain to a 3-0 series whitewash against New Zealand with wins in Huddersfield (20-14), Hull (44-0) & Wigan (28-22).

The Kiwis just could’t contain him, scoring two tries across the series as well as kicking nine goals to yield a points return of 26. In recognition of his sterling showings, the Leeds star was awarded the George Smith Medal, named the player of the series. Of his 20 full international appearances between England & GB, these three were his best.

2011: THAT Old Trafford try

This is THE greatest moment of Burrow’s career, and one of the greatest moments we’re ever likely to see full stop. With 33 minutes on the clock and the scores level at 2-2 in a Grand Final, he pulled off a ridiculous solo move, ducking under the challenges of numerous Saints defenders to go 50+ metres and slide over underneath the sticks.

To do that on that stage is so, so good. Leeds went on to win 32-16, sealing a fifth Super League title. Burrow was again named the man of the match and became the first player ever to earn the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice. That was also the first-time ever that every single journalist in attendance at a Grand Final voted unanimously for the man of the match. Richly deserved.

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2015: The Treble

Leeds Rhinos, 2015
Leeds Rhinos lift the Super League title in 2015 to complete the treble

Since the introduction of the Grand Final in 1998, only three sides have ‘done the treble’ – winning the Challenge Cup, League Leaders’ Shield & Grand Final in the same season. Having done just that in 2015, Leeds remain the last side to achieve the feat, truly remarkable.

Academy product Burrow scored 12 tries that year, including one in the Challenge Cup final as the Rhinos thumped Hull KR 50-0 at Wembley to seal that trophy for the second year on the spin. The treble was completed with a 22-20 success against Wigan Warriors at Old Trafford, where Burrow starred from the off at hooker.

2017: Signing off in style

Brian McDermott, Rob Burrow, Danny McGuire
Rob Burrow lifts the Super League trophy following Leeds Rhinos’ Grand Final triumph in 2017 alongside team-mate Danny McGuire and head coach Brian McDermott

Fittingly, Burrow’s 492nd and final appearance for the Rhinos also came at Old Trafford and saw him lift the Super League trophy for the eighth time in an illustrious career, that the 16th time he’d won a major honour with Leeds. Having turned 35 the month prior, the legend had already featured 23 times that season, but helped inspire the Rhinos to Grannd Final glory.

Heading into it as underdogs, a comprehensive 24-6 victory against Castleford Tigers brought the curtain down for both Burrow & close friend Danny McGuire, who departed the club following the triumph.

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2020: The outpouring of love at Headingley in testimonial

Rob Burrow
Rob Burrow poses with his children following his and Jamie Jones-Buchanan’s testimonial at Headingley in 2020

This, of course, doesn’t count towards any stats or whatever else – but honestly, who cares about that stuff? This was one of rugby league’s greatest moments ever.

The month after Burrow had made his MND diagnosis public, Jamie Jones-Buchanan agreed to share his testimonial with his former team-mate, with funds raised from a friendly against Bradford Bulls which transformed into an all-stars game at times.

Legends of both clubs returned and took to the field one last time in support of their great friend Burrow, with Sky Sports broadcasting the event. Burrow himself was able to take to the Headingley field one last time with a full house in, and the reception he got while entering the game was just unforgettable.

Jones-Buchanan described seeing Burrow enter the field as ‘the greatest moment of his career’, while Burrow’s former team-mate Barrie McDermott – on punditry duty for Sky – told the man himself he was a ‘champion and a legend’. We couldn’t want to echo those words any more.

Rob Burrow CBE – A rugby league icon. Then, now, and always.

Rob, rest easy. Thankyou for everything 🖤

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