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Kevin Sinfield: Carrying Rob Burrow across Leeds Marathon line 'a special moment for both of us'

Speaking to Sky Sports News at the launch of his autobiography 'The Extra Mile', Kevin Sinfield revealed what it meant to carry Rob Burrow over the line after completing a marathon together; England's defence coach has backed them to 'ruffle a few feathers' at the Rugby World Cup

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Kevin Sinfield described the moment of crossing The Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon finish line with the former professional rugby league player who was diagnosed with Motor neurone disease in 2019 as 'really, really special'

Kevin Sinfield puts sharing crossing the finish line of the Leeds Marathon with former team-mate Rob Burrow up there with anything the duo achieved together as players.

The pair starred on both rugby league's club and international stage during their playing careers, most notably as mainstays of the all-conquering Leeds Rhinos team which has gone down in the sport's history as the club's 'Golden Generation'.

Burrow's diagnosis with motor neurone disease in December 2019 then led to Sinfield embarking on a series of epic charity running challenges to aid his friend and others with the condition, which to date have raised over £2.7m towards MND causes.

Sinfield ran alongside Burrow in his wheelchair at the recent Leeds Marathon and carried him across the finish line so the two could share that moment together, and the 42-year-old revealed just what it meant to both men.

"We were both pretty fortunate we played in a very special team that were able to share in some trophy-lift moments and some really tough moments too, but that would rank right up there with all of them," Sinfield, speaking at the launch of his autobiography The Extra Mile, told Sky Sports News.

"To have 12,500 people run alongside us to share what it was all about, which was to run for a mate with a mate, and for Rob to be able to fully take part was incredible.

"The plan was to finish arm in arm and unfortunately with Rob's health and not being able to hold his own bodyweight, and the toll being in that chair for over four hours took in the heat meant we had to adjust the plan slightly.

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It was just a really special moment for both of us and it's a moment we'll remember forever.
Kevin Sinfield on carrying Rob Burrow across the finish line

"But it was just a really special moment for both of us and it's a moment we'll remember forever."

Sinfield, who made over 500 appearances for Leeds and was part of seven Rhinos Super League title-winning teams, and many of his old team-mates were quick to rally around Burrow when his MND diagnosis was first announced.

The Covid-19 pandemic delayed the former Rhinos captain's fundraising ambitions, but in December 2020 he ran seven marathons in seven days, followed by running from Leicester to Leeds in October 2021 and then seven ultramarathons in seven days last year which concluded on the Old Trafford pitch at half-time during the Rugby League World Cup final.

"When something like that happens to a friend you want to help, and I have to say a number of that team have gone above and beyond with fundraising attempts in the way we've come together and supported each other," Sinfield said.

PA - Kevin Sinfield (left) hugs former Leeds Rhinos teammate Rob Burrow
Image: Sinfield and Burrow won numerous honours as Leeds team-mates

"The whole journey has been incredible and what happened just over nine days ago in Leeds with the marathon was incredible.

"For me to spend that amount of time with Rob in an event where it was tough for all of us and to get that moment at the end which for us symbolised love, friendship and caring for your mate was incredible alongside the support of so many others who worked so hard to get to that start line and made the finish line too."

Sinfield's efforts to help Burrow and the MND community have come in spite of him admitting he does not like running, and he previously had no intention to write an autobiography either.

But Burrow's encouragement to share the story of the journey they have been on led to him taking up the offer to do so.

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Rob Burrow's children brought out the match ball ahead of England's mid-season rugby league Test against France

"I never wanted to write a book," Sinfield said. "I don't particularly like running either, but that's the influence Rob has had on me.

"The reason is fundamentally I'm quite a private person, but also I didn't want just another sports book out there which was very 'samey' to everything else out there.

"What's happened over the last three years with Rob in particular a conversation with Rob 18 months ago where he told me I needed to do it and the story, it's been quite a journey.

"Although you're opening yourself up and putting your life in a book, it's something I've enjoyed doing and the big message throughout the book is about friendship and love and looking after each other, and hopefully that comes across."

England can 'do something special' at World Cup

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England rugby union defence coach Kevin Sinfield says the team have the capabilities to 'ruffle a few feathers' at this year's Rugby World Cup

Away from his fundraising activities, Sinfield is helping England's rugby union team prepare for this year's Rugby World Cup in his role as defence coach.

The former Great Britain and England rugby league international followed Steve Borthwick to the national team set-up when the Leicester Tigers head coach was recruited to replace Eddie Jones ahead of this year's Six Nations.

A disappointing campaign saw England finish fourth, but Sinfield is confident the 2019 finalists can surprise a few people in France, where they face Argentina, Japan, Samoa and first-time qualifiers Chile in Pool D.

"We obviously learnt some lessons from the Six Nations and found out a lot of answers," Sinfield said.

England Rugby Training Session - Pennyhill Park - Monday 30th January
England defensive coach Kevin Sinfield during a training session at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot. Picture date: Monday January 30, 2023.
Image: Sinfield is now working in rugby union as England's defence coach

"I think we've certainly got the squad capable of ruffling some feathers and doing something special, but we have to do a lot of work and a lot of hard work before then.

"The one thing which has been really pleasing for me is how much the players want to represent the white shirt, their country, families and friends, and everyone across England.

"When you have such a strength and spirit in the group, it bodes well for what we're capable of doing, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the year."

England's pre-World Cup training camp begins next month, followed by pre-tournament matches at Twickenham against Wales on August 12 and Fiji on August 26.

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