Burrow ready for coaching baptism
Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow will begin a new chapter of his illustrious career on Friday night at the Butts Park Arena in Coventry when the side he coaches take on Coventry Bears in the latest pre-season game for the Rhinos.
The side will include a number of first team squad members including Jordan Lilley, Ash Handley, Harry Newman, Mikolaj Oledzki, Josh Walters, Cameron Smith and Josh Jordan-Roberts along with Under 19 squad members.
Burrow retired at Old Trafford as he claimed the eighth Grand Final winners ring of his glittering career. He now begins a new career as the Rhinos Head of Academy Coaching. That starts this Friday with the trip to the Midlands to face the Bears, kicking off at 7.45pm on Friday.
Burrow commented, “I am looking forward to it. It is a bit like when you are a player after you have been in pre-season for so long and you are desperate for a match. Without a game, it gets a bit monotonous even for the coaches! Coventry are an unknown quantity for us so we have concentrated on what we can do. We have a number of young lads in the side this year and it will be interesting to see these 16 year olds playing against men. The young lads are big and physical but naturally their game is underdeveloped and it will be a good test for them.”
Burrow has been back in pre-season with the Under 19s since November and he has been impressed by his young charges. He added, “The first years have been really impressive. I remember from my early days, it is quite daunting when you are 16 training and playing against 19 year olds; it can be strange and a bit scary. But our lads have grabbed the challenge with both hands. Prop Tom Holroyd is a big unit and he looks comfortable physically, Harvey Spence reminds me a lot of Jordan Lilley, technically he is talented and his pass is good likewise Jack Broadbent and Liam Whitton are great athletes but I could go through the whole group and praise them all.
“It is early days so far but, as a coaching team, we are optimistic about this group. There are similarities with an earlier era and hopefully this can be another strong generation,” added Burrow.
Whilst Burrow decided to hang up his boots at Old Trafford his friend and former team mate Danny McGuire will continue his career at Hull KR next season. However, the former scrum half says he has had no regrets so far. He revealed, “It has only been a few months but you get a taste as to whether you miss being involved in the first team but I am enjoying my new role so much I have not missed it one bit, I suppose that speaks volumes that it was the right decision for me. As a player, you are purely focused on your role in the team but as a coach you have to be an expert on every position. I can honestly say that my rugby knowledge has gone up massively in a couple of months as a coach just because of that different view point.”
Whilst his focus has been on the Academy side, Burrow also took time to praise new Rhinos captain Kallum Watkins after the England international centre was named as the Champions skipper for next season. Burrow added, “Kallum thoroughly deserves to be the team’s captain. When we lost people like Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield naturally we were left with a void when those voices disappeared. Kallum began to speak more and more in meetings, whether after a loss or a win, and he has matured as a player and figurehead in this team. It will be a challenge to captain the champions but he certainly has the skills to do it. When I am speaking to our young players, I can point to Kallum as a perfect example, it is proof that the system works.”