Rob Burrow 'humbled' by support on emotional fundraising friendly between Leeds and Bradford
Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow struggled to hold back the tears at a special fundraising match in front of almost 20,000 fans following his diagnosis with motor neurone disease.
Burrow, 37, who found out he had the incurable disease in December, walked on to the pitch with his three children before kick-off against Bradford Bulls.
He then came on for an emotional final five minutes.
"I was tired but I absolutely loved every minute," he said at full-time.
"You don't know how much it means. No words will come close to describing how I feel right now. Thank you so much."
MND is a degenerative condition that affects how nerves in the brain and spinal cord function.
Burrow's long-term Leeds team-mate Jamie Jones-Buchanan agreed to share his testimonial game against Bradford, with proceeds from the match split between the two.
A crowdfunding page set up for former England international Burrow has so far raised more than £245,000.
Leeds were comfortable 34-10 winners in an entertaining game in which Papua New Guinea international Rhyse Martin scored two tries and kicked five goals, but the result was of secondary importance.
Burrow added: "It's hard to put into words. I've been struggling with my words anyway. I'm overwhelmed and humbled. It really meant something.
"In rugby league we stay together and look after our own. Today was an example of what our game is all about.
"I'm not one for the limelight but it's been a big day. After this I've got some stuff tomorrow and when that settles it's back to normal life. That's changing nappies and a bit of coaching and the sooner I get back to that the better. But how can you not enjoy a day like today."
Bulls agreed to donate their share of receipts from the match to the fund set up to raise money for Burrow's family.
Jones-Buchanan, who spent 20 years as a Rhinos player, also came on in the closing stages, as did numerous legends from both sides, including Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai, Danny McGuire, Robbie Hunter-Paul, Stuart Fielden and Nathan McAvoy.
Burrow won eight Grand Finals, three World Club Challenges and two Challenge Cups in 17 years with the Super League side before retiring in 2017.