Rugby star Rob Burrow says he will fight against motor neurone disease

Rugby star Rob Burrow says he ‘refuses to feel sorry for himself’ and he will ‘fight to the last breath’ against motor neurone disease

  • Rob Burrow, from West Yorkshire, was on This Morning with his wife and children
  • READ MORE: Viewers left ‘broken’ by ‘incredible love’ shared between Rob Burrow and his wife

Rugby League hero Rob Burrow has said he will ‘fight to his last breath’ as he spoke about his journey with motor neurone disease today. 

The former player, 40, who has become a campaigner for awareness of the disease after his diagnosis in late 2019, appeared on This Morning today to discuss his documentary, Rob Burrow: Living with MND, which has been nominated for a National Television Award (NTA). 

The ITV documentary, which aired in June, showed heartbreaking images of Burrow being carried around his house and fed by wife Lindsey.

The Leeds Rhinos legend, from West Yorkshire, was on the show with his wife, Lindsey and his two daughters Maya, eight, and Macy, 11. The pair also have a son called Jackson. 

During his appearance, Rob explained: ‘I refuse to give in. I will fight and fight to my very last breath, I use positivity to get me through. Sometimes, even when things are hard, I like to crack a joke and make everyone laugh.’

Rob Burrow, from West Yorkshire, was on This Morning speaking to Holly Willoughby and Alison Hammond about his condition

When Holly asked him how he felt about the nomination, Rob said: ‘I am nervous and excited, before a big game at Wembley I would be the same. 

 ‘To be nominated is an honour. I can’t believe that me, a lad from Yorkshire who played rugby league, is even on the list. 

‘But I would love to win. I want to win for Lindsey and the kids and for all the people living right now in this country with this horrible disease.

‘When I was diagnosed I was terrified, but I soon realised I could control how I would approach my situation mentally.’

Two years before his diagnosis, Rob had stopped playing in the professional rugby league and started having difficulty with his speech. 

He would slur his words and and found it hard to articulate words, so he was sent for specialised tests. 

At the time he was diagnosed with the condition, Lindsey said they were told that Rob had around one to two years to live. 

When asked what life was like for him now, after his diagnosis, Rob said: ‘It is a challenge. 

In December 2019 Rob, 40, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and dedicated wife and mother, Lindsey, has been his full-time carer since

The Leeds Rhinos legend, from West Yorkshire, was on the show with his wife, Lindsey and his two daughters Maya, eight, and Macy, 11

 ‘I can no longer look after myself in any way, I have to ask Lindsey, or the kids, or my mother and father to help me do anything. 

‘It is so frustrating at times because all I want to do is to be able to kick a ball round with my gorgeous little boy, but I can’t. 

‘I have to sit and watch other people do it for me. I am trapped in my own body. 

‘I can’t eat normal stuff anymore and I really do miss my favourite food and someone has to feed me now, but I refuse to feel sorry for myself. 


Motor neurone disease is a rare condition that mainly affects people in their 60s and 70s, but it can affect adults of all ages.

It’s caused by a problem with cells in the brain and nerves called motor neurones. These cells gradually stop working over time. It’s not known why this happens.

Having a close relative with motor neurone disease, or a related condition called frontotemporal dementia, can sometimes mean you’re more likely to get it. But it doesn’t run in families in most cases.

Early symptoms can include weakness in your ankle or leg, like finding it hard to walk upstairs; slurred speech, finding it hard to swallow, a weak grip, and gradual weight loss

If you have these sympthoms, you should see a GP. They will consider other possible conditions and can refer you to a specialist called a neurologist if necessary.

If a close relative has motor neurone disease or frontotemporal dementia and you’re worried you may be at risk of it – they may refer you to a genetic counsellor to talk about your risk and any tests you can have

Source: NHS UK 

‘I just won’t do it. I’ve got a beautiful family and I will help them do all the things they want to do.

‘I just want to be where they are because I love them.’

Lindsey said Rob introduced a ‘no tear’ policy early on in his diagnosis and added that the family stick it it ‘most of the time.’ 

‘There are occasions where we occasionally break the policy, but that was Rob’s wish, that we carry on life as normal, we live every day to it’s fullest and just make as many happy memories as a family as we can,’ she said. 

Rob said the documentary was made with a very small team of people who have been there ‘since the start.’

He explained: ‘So many people feel like the diagnosis is the end for them. But it is not. 

‘I wanted to show that you don’t need to hide away, or stay at home or be frightened of going out. You can still live every single day. 

‘That is my philosophy and it’s really simple. 

‘I feel for the people who are broken by the words “you have MND”. 

‘I know I was for a while. So I hope I can show them that there is a way you can live with this. If I can help one person then I feel like our film has done its job.’

Meanwhile his daughters Maya and Macy explained how they work together to carry out chores around the house.

Maya said: ‘It was devastating news that my dad had MND.

‘Me and Macy, if he wants a drink or he needs anything, we’ll always be there to support him.’ 

Rob said he is ‘amazed’ by Lindsey every day and that she is ‘the best wife and mother anyone could wish for.’

‘She didn’t sign up for this and yet here she is, always by my side, day and night, fighting for me.

‘She is stronger than any rugby hero I’ve ever played alongside and I’m so lucky to have her,’ Rob added. 

Meanwhile Lindsey said: ‘Rob has always said he’d do the same for me and you make those vows, for better for worse, and you stand by them.

Meanwhile his daughters Maya and Macy explained how they work together to carry out chores around the house 

‘Rob is still the same person inside, he’s just in a body now that just doesn’t function as normal, so he does need help now. 

‘But as long as Rob’s happy and the kids are happy, I’m happy.’

People took to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to speak about the interview.

One user wrote: ‘Absolutely astounded watching #RobBurrow and his beautiful family on @thismorning.

People took to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to speak about the interview on This Morning

‘What an inspiration-everything he’s going through but still a lovely smile on his face-he is rich with the love and care of his devoted wife & family. True love. 

‘Good luck at the NTA’s you amazing people.’

Another penned: ‘@thismorning we need to all be a bit more like @Rob7Burrow with his amazing attitude. You are amazing and your family are incredible. #thismorning #robburrow’.

Alongside Rob Burrow’s documentary Living with MND, the other documentaries shortlisted are Matt Willis: Fighting Addiction, Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now and Deborah James: Bowelbabe In Her Own Words. 

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