From icon to Immortal, Rob Burrow leaves us blessed to have witnessed a life to cherish

If anyone ever doubted that someone measuring five feet and five inches could be a giant, they had clearly never met Rob Burrow.

On the face of it, Rob Burrow had no right to be a rugby league player. He regularly went to battle with people twice his size. And yet, on a battlefield that plays host to some of the most physically elite, most menacing athletes in world sport, it was the pocket rocket that struck fear into them like no other.

Forwards had been programmed their entire careers to show disregard for their bodies and run into other physical specimens as part of their profession. But when Burrow got hold of the ball, they were terrorised. Many great players have a tale to tell about how they saw a dash of blue and amber slip between their fingers.

Burrow is one of rugby league's all-time greats and the accomplishments back that up. Eight Grand Final victories, three World Club Challenge triumphs, a two-time Challenge Cup winner and 20 international appearances. The list goes on.

Old Trafford was very much his Theatre of Dreams. His most iconic moment came in 2011 when he scored the greatest try in Grand Final history with a duck, a dodge and a dash. A brilliant Burrow try.

He became the first-ever two-time recipient of the Harry Sunderland award, which was given to the player of the match in the Grand Final. That trophy has now been renamed in his honour. What makes it all the more fitting is that only two other players have gone on to receive it twice, Danny McGuire, his halfback lieutenant throughout Leeds' Golden Generation days, and of course, his great mate and captain, Kevin Sinfield.

Collectively, they were the heartbeat of Leeds Rhinos' success, the cornerstone of arguably rugby league's greatest-ever dynasty. Almost the biggest tribute you can give to Burrow is that he was regularly regarded as the best player in a team of icons. He retired a one-club man, having made 492 appearances for the Rhinos, who inducted him into their hall of fame in 2020.

Rob Burrow was just different. With devastating footwork and a frightening turn of pace, he electrified week in, week out. He was also one of the bravest players, never shying away from tackling players twice his size. One particularly memorable moment came in 2011 when he had an altercation with 17 stone, six-foot Tongan powerhouse Epalahame Lauaki. who didn't know what to do when a man half his size swung for him after a patronising slap.

What we learned later in his life was that bravery and fearlessness weren't restricted to life on the rugby league field. Almost inconceivably, he was a more courageous warrior off the pitch than he was on it.

When he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, Burrow faced it with spirit and bravery most of us could only wish to show in our darkest moments. And arguably, an even greater reflection of Burrow was the manner in which his family handled such devastation too. No words are befitting Lindsey, his awe-inspiring wife, and his three children, Maya, Macy and Jackson, whose smiles have captured the hearts of so many.

Like his playing career, Burrow's accomplishments away from the field need no introduction. It can only be hoped now that all the fundraising, all the selfless dedication when staring such grim consequences in the face, can positively impact the lives of many Rob will never get to meet.

Even with such a dire diagnosis that comes with such a wicked disease, he battled like the champion he was, exceeding all medical expectations to ensure he enjoyed all the happy memories he could with his children.

Rob Burrow ended his rugby league career as an icon. But he leaves the world as an immortal.