It was only fitting for Rob Burrow to walk away from his last game with a Grand Final Winners ring on his finger.
In his and good friend Danny McGuire’s final game for the club, Burrow was part of the Leeds Rhinos side that beat Castleford Tigers last weekend to win the 2017 Betfred Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford.
The 35-year-old made his debut for the Rhinos back in 2001 after coming through the club’s Academy but back then, he probably didn’t expect to be a key figure for the club in the following 16 years.
He has spent his entire professional career with Leeds and made a remarkable 493 appearances for the club, scoring 157 tries and 198 goals. He also added five drop-goals, taking his tally to 1,111 points.
The Pontefract-born half-back made his England in 2003 and went on to earn 15 caps for the Three Lions, scoring 12 tries.
Burrow played in the Rhinos’ 2004 Grand Final win over local rivals Bradford Bulls and featured again in their 39-32 victory over NRL giants Canterbury Bulldogs in the World Club Challenge the following season.
But 2005 didn’t finish how he would have hoped, with Leeds losing to Hull FC and Bradford in the Challenge Cup Final and Super League Grand Final respectively.
The scrum-half probably couldn’t have dreamed for a better year than 2007 though. Not only was he called up to the Great Britain squad for a Test against France and named as the Leeds Rhinos Player of the Year, but he was also named in the Super League Dream Team alongside teammates Jamie Peacock, Scott Donald and Gareth Ellis.
He went on to win the Harry Sunderland trophy in the Grand Final victory over St Helens that year and played a vital role in the Lions’ 3-0 victory over New Zealand in the Gillette Fusion Test series in 2007 as well. He was awarded the George Smith medal as Player of the Series, finishing top points scorer with 26 from two tries and nine goals.
In the end, Burrow played five games for Great Britain, scoring four tries between 2005 and 2007.
He didn’t put a foot wrong in the following campaign either, being named in the Super League Dream Team for the second year in a row and starred for the Rhinos in another Grand Final triumph as they beat Saints.
The proud Yorkshireman was then selected for the England squad for the 2008 World Cup and had fine tournament.
Burrow became the first player ever to win the Harry Sunderland trophy twice by winning the votes of all 37 judges after his performance in the 2011 Grand Final win over Saints.
And the only reason why he didn’t feature for England in the 2011 Four Nations was because he had to rule himself through injury.
He enjoyed Challenge Cup success in 2014 and 2015 with the Rhinos as well and the wins saw him win everything possible at club level at least two times.
The Leeds legend has won eight Super League championships, three League Leaders’ Shields and two Challenge Cups as well as being named in the Super League Dream Team twice and also winning the Harry Sunderland trophy on two occasions.
Burrow will now join the Rhinos coaching staff after donning the Amber and Blue jersey one last time on Saturday.
He is just 5’5 and has been one of the smallest ever players to play Rugby League at a professional level.
However, he has never let that affect him despite many people, probably, having written him off along the way.
Burrow has been one of the best players to play in the summer era of Super League and is a great example to youngsters of the sport that if they are small, they can still achieve their dream no matter what size they are.