28th September 2017, 13:29 | Leeds

Burrow to hold back the tears on Headingley farewell

Burrow to hold back the tears on Headingley farewell

Rob Burrow is confident he will be able to keep his emotions in check as he prepares to bring his trophy-laden 17-year career to a close.

The Leeds veteran, who turned 35 this week, is hanging up his boots at the end of the season, which could come as soon as Friday night when the Rhinos take on Hull FC for a place in the Betfred Super League Grand Final.

Burrow, whose 490 matches have brought him seven Grand Final rings and two Challenge Cup winner's medals, is naturally hoping Old Trafford will be the setting for his farewell appearance but, whatever the result, he knows he will be running out at Headingley for the last time.

It will be the end of an era on and off the field, with Burrow's long-time half-back partner Danny McGuire also playing his final match amid somewhat unfamiliar surroundings.

The famous South Stand has now been razed to the ground and the North Stand is ready to follow suit as part of a major ground redevelopment.

"I'm not a teary sort of guy but it means a hell of a lot," Burrow said. "I've got my daughters coming out with me and Danny has got his son walking out with him so it's magical in that sense, I've got some great memories here.

"It will probably hit me later but at the moment it just feels like the last game at home. It's been a big year with the South Stand and it will be the last game in front of the North Stand so there is a lot going on as well as us playing our last game here.

"I'm totally aware of it but it doesn't feel like it's my last game ever. It will probably hit me more when the next season comes around."

The former internationals have scored no fewer than 404 Super League tries between them but while McGuire, the Rhinos captain who is three months younger, will continue his career with newly-promoted Hull Kingston Rovers, Burrow insists there will be no going back on his decision to quit.

"I can certainly physically do another year, it's what comes with it, mentally," said Burrow, who is getting ready to embark on a coaching career with Leeds. "It's the right decision for me.

"I didn't want to go out old and decrepit, I wanted to go out fully fit and on my terms.

"I'm really excited about the next chapter and that's developing lads here at Leeds. It's going to be easy weaning off rugby because I'm still involved on a day-to-basis. It will be much easier than you think."

The fairytale finish, of course, would be for Burrow and McGuire to emulate the achievement of Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai.

They all brought the curtain down on their illustrious Leeds careers with victory in the 2015 Grand Final and Burrow sees no reason why history should not repeat itself.

"We're in a good position," he said. "We've picked up form which you need to do going into these games."

Hull captain Gareth Ellis, who was a Grand Final winner with Leeds, will similarly be hoping to prolong his career by another match as he prepares to hang up his boots.

Ellis, 36, led his side to an emphatic win over the Rhinos en route to lifting the Challenge Cup at Wembley but Leeds have won their last 12 home games against the Black and Whites, whose last victory at Headingley was on September 7, 2007.

Hull's Man of Steel contender Albert Kelly says his side are confident of ending their 10-year hoodoo and have their sights set on completing the league and cup double.

"It's a big challenge," Kelly said. "It's going to be a big game and we're going to need a big performance. This is what you aim for, to be in this situation, the business end of the season. Leeds will be confident, we'll be confident as well, and it will come down to whoever wants it the most."