Former Leeds Rhinos and England captain Kevin Sinfield today (December 1) begins a gruelling challenge of running seven marathons in seven days - each in under four hours - to raise funds and awareness for his former team-mate Rob Burrow and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Burrow, who won seven Super League Grand Finals alongside Sinfield as part of their Golden Generation, was diagnosed with the debilitating disease 12 months ago.
Sinfield, who served as Head of the England Performance Unit until earlier this year, said: “When it gets a bit dark and you question what on earth you’re doing, I will try to remember the good times and funny moments Rob brought us and has shared with us all.
“He’s been brilliant. He’s been so overwhelmed by the support from everybody and close to home [wife] Lindsey has done a number of different things to try and raise awareness.
“When you look at what Barrie [McDermott] has done, Keith [Senior] and JP [Jamie Peacock]. Although Kylie [Leuluai] has perhaps not done many challenges he’s certainly been the ring-leader pulling people together. Danny Mags, Chev Walker, Ryan Bailey, Brett Delaney - all that close group of friends - have stood tall for Rob.
“We have had a bit of a joke about it as obviously the ‘seven in seven’ is all around Rob’s squad number and I am pretty glad he didn’t have one somewhere in the 20s.
“But I have made that point to him. He kept saying he’d do stuff for me and I absolutely know he would. But when I saw him two weeks ago I did say would you have done 13 in 13 for me?
“I never got an answer - but he did start laughing!”
Burrow, who has captured the hearts of the Rugby League family and far beyond during his fight against MND, was awarded the Spirit of Super League award at last Monday’s presentation – alongside Mose Masoe - and Sinfield says his former team-mate and friend is in good spirits.
“He’s fighting as you knew he would. Clearly some things have stopped working and aren’t working as they should do. He’s using his voice player a lot more now but he’s hanging in there.
“He’s doing his best. The great thing is every time I see him he makes me laugh. He still has that spirit and sparkle in his eye. Whether it’s a daft message he fires out to us or we try to remember good times together, his spirit is there, absolutely.”
Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sinfield-7-in-7