Leeds Rhinos rugby league legend Rob Burrow dies aged 41

Rugby league legend Rob Burrow has died at the age of 41, his former club Leeds Rhinos said on Sunday.

Burrow was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2019 and subsequently dedicated himself to raising awareness of the condition and funds for charities with the support of his former Leeds teammate Kevin Sinfield.

The scrum-half, who also played for England and Great Britain, won eight Super League Grand Finals, three World Club Challenges and two Challenge Cups with Leeds. He made more than 400 appearances for the club between 2001 and 2017.

"It is with deep sadness that the club can confirm that former player Rob Burrow CBE has passed away, aged 41," Leeds said in statement.

"Rob inspired the entire country with his brave battle against motor neurone disease since his diagnosis in December 2019. He passed away peacefully at Pinderfield's Hospital near his home surrounded by his loving family after becoming ill earlier this week.

"Burrow played his entire career with Leeds Rhinos and won every honour with the club as part of their golden generation. A hard working and dedicated player, his fearless performances made him one of the most respected players in the Rhinos ranks.

"On behalf of the Burrow family, we would like to thank the staff at Pindersfield Hospital for their compassion and caring for Rob in his final days.

"Fittingly, as a tribute to the incredible work done by Rob, the groundbreaking of the new Rob Burrow Centre for MND at Seacroft Hospital on Monday will go ahead as planned at Rob's request. At this time, we would ask that everyone respect the privacy of the Burrow family."

The former England international was made an MBE in the 2021 New Year Honours for services to rugby league and his work in the MND community.

Burrow and Sinfield were both made CBEs in the 2024 New Year Honours. The duo have helped to raise more than £15 million ($19.1m) for MND charities.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described Burrow as an "inspiration" in a post on X.

"Rob was an inspiration to everyone who met him or who heard his incredible story," Sunak said. "I was honoured to spend some time with him last year.

"He drove a fundraising campaign that supports vital new research improving the care for others -- not least through the creation of The Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease in Leeds.

"He leaves behind an amazing legacy and my thoughts are with his friends and family."

A statement from the Burrow family read: "Rob has always been a true inspiration throughout his life whether that was on the rugby league field or during his battle with MND. He never allowed others to define what he could achieve and believed in his own ability to do more.

"The outpouring of love and support that Rob and the whole Burrow family have received over the last four and a half years meant so much to Rob.

"In particular, the rugby league family and the MND community have rallied around Rob to inspire him, thank you for your support.

"For those who knew Rob throughout his life, his determination and spirit in the face of MND over the last four and a half years came as no surprise.

"Rob never accepted that he couldn't do something, he just found his own way of doing it better than anyone else. He will continue to inspire us all every day. In a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream."