Former England scrum-half Rob Burrow has announced he has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease at the age of 37.
He won eight Super League titles with Leeds and represented Great Britain during a stellar playing career before becoming the club's academy coach.
Burrow said: “Regrettably, today I am confirming that I have been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. I would like to thank everyone for the support I have received already since being given my diagnosis.
"I know I have a big challenge in front of me but knowing that I have the love and support of so many people will give me inspiration and strength. I am very positive about the situation and intend to battle the condition as I still feel fit and well.
“I would like to ask for privacy at this time so I can adjust to the battle I have ahead and so that I can spend time with those closest to me ahead of Christmas and New Year.”
The father of three played his entire career at Leeds, making 492 appearances for the club following his debut in 2001, placing him in fifth in the club’s all-time list of career appearances.
He scored 196 tries for a total of 1,103 points. He was capped 15 times by England and played five more tests for Great Britain including a Man of the Series performance in 2007 for the national side. He is a two-time winner of the Harry Sunderland Award as Man of the Match in the 2007 and 2011 Grand Final. He won the Challenge Cup in 2014 and 2015 as well as three World Club Challenges and three League Leaders Shields.
“Rugby league is one of the toughest sports in the world and as a player Rob was one of fiercest and bravest players to ever take to the field," said Warriors' executive director, Kris Radlinski.
"I want him to know that he will have the full support of Wigan Warriors as he faces this challenge.”
Leeds Rhinos Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield commented on his friend, saying: “This has been devastating news and heart breaking for Rob and his young family. The thoughts of everyone at Leeds Rhinos and, I am sure, throughout the Rugby League family is with Rob and his wife Lindsey. Throughout his career, Rob overcame the odds to become a legend of the game and I know he will tackle this challenge with the exact same positive determination.
“As a club, Rob will receive our full support and we will be working with him to chart the way forward. I would like to thank Doddie Weir for taking time out recently to meet with Rob and talk about his own personal experiences with MND. The news has been a massive shock and I know it will be similar for his many former team mates, friends and fans in the game. We will be developing ways we can best support Rob and his family in the future over the next few weeks and will be hoping to announce plans as soon as possible in the New Year. In the meantime, I would ask you all to keep Rob and his family in your thoughts over the Festive period."
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