Rob Burrow: Ryan Hall reflects on special bond with the ‘life and soul’ of Leeds

Ryan Hall and Rob Burrow Leeds Rhinos PA
Ryan Hall (left) and Rob Burrow (right) in action for Leeds Rhinos in 2012

England’s all-time leading try scorer Ryan Hall has spoken of his close bond with legend Rob Burrow and revealed the unlikely role played by David Brent in their relationship at Leeds.

Hall won six Grand Finals alongside Burrow as the Rhinos triumphed seven times between 2007-2017 including three in a row in 2007-2009.

And speaking to the Love Rugby League Podcast, Hall has revealed how tough it has been for him and their old Leeds team-mates to see Burrow consumed by motor neurone disease, yet display such extraordinary positivity in the face of such a cruel and unforgiving disease. 

And Hall has also revealed the role played by Ricky Gervais’s cult comedy classic The Office in keeping their old dressing room spirit alive through such difficult times.

“You could go through an entire day just quoting and using David Brent as a template,” says Hall.

I watched it in school, although the first time round I thought it was real and couldn’t watch it because it was so cringe. Rugby players are alike, brought up in similar backgrounds and click on things like that.”

Listen: The Love Rugby League Podcast with Ryan Hall

Hall is part of an Office-only WhatsApp group where he, Burrow and former team-mates including Toulouse forward Mitch Garbutt and retired Rhinos captain Stevie Ward communicate only in lines from the Gervais show.

Despite only being able to communicate himself through EyeGaze technology –  blinking at letters on a computer screen to type out words to send in a message –  Burrow remains one of the most regular and hilarious contributors. 

“He’s still Rob Burrow, he’s been the life and soul all his career. Quoting The Office is one of his favourite things to do, and making fun of others using Brent,” says Hall.

“I’m rubbish in situations like that with Rob. When we had meetings before big games with the Rhinos we’d normally have a speaker to get emotions going in the room

“I can put on a stone face and get through it no problem normally. People think I’m that way built but I’m not. Underneath I’m soft as ‘owt and quite an emotional person. I’m rubbish when Rob’s involved, it is hard to see and a terrible thing. But he is still razor sharp, Rob is still there.” 

ROB BURROW: Top 10 tries that Leeds Rhinos legend scored during his career

 

Current St Helens side are as good as that dominant Leeds outfit

Hall was a huge part of that dominant Leeds side before an injury-ravaged stint with Sydney in the NRL and reckons the current St Helens side – who have won three on the bounce – are every bit as good.

He added: “There are only two teams to win three in a row. Us and Saints. They are in that elite category of champions.

“You don’t have to be a rugby league expert to realize they are an attractive team to watch and very hard to play against. Our competition needs that, just to raise the standards of everyone.

“We want to play in an elite competition, so we need teams to be very good to be part of that competition. Saints are holding up their end of the bargain, we all need to catch up. “

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