Major new Super League Grand Final award to be named after Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow
and live on Freeview channel 276
The Rob Burrow Award will replace the Harry Sunderland Trophy which has been presented to the outstanding player in the previous 26 Grand Finals. It was introduced in 1965 and previously went to the man of the match in Championship and Premiership deciders.
Burrow was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2019, two years after hanging up his boots following his and Rhinos’ eighth Grand Final triumph. He won the Harry Sunderland award in 2007 and again four years later, when he received every vote cast by members of the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters Association (RLWBA).
Burrow is one of only three players to have won the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice in Grand Finals, alongside his former Rhinos teammates Kevin Sinfield and Danny McGuire. Sinfield and McGuire have been invited to present the first Rob Burrow Award at Old Trafford on October 14.
RLWBA chairman Trevor Hunt, who is currently also Rugby Football League vice-president, said: “After long and serious consideration, we believe the time is now right to introduce a new award for the player of the match in the Super League Grand Final. I am certain rugby league players and supporters will agree the name of Rob Burrow is a fitting one to recognise.
“He has been one of the most popular and successful players in the three decades since the Super League was formed in 1996 and made his own history at Old Trafford as the first man to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy in two Grand Finals, setting a never to be beaten record of winning every single vote for his brilliant performance for Leeds against St Helens in 2011.
“Our predecessors celebrated the contribution made by Harry Sunderland to rugby league in this country when they introduced the Harry Sunderland Trophy for the 1965 Championship Final following his death in Manchester in 1964.
“After it was awarded to the Man of the Match in nine Championship Finals, the last of them to Mike Stephenson of Dewsbury in 1973, the Harry Sunderland Trophy was transferred to the end-of-season Premiership competition from 1974 to 1997. The Harry Sunderland Trophy was then transferred to the Grand Final for the man of the match award winner.
Since the introduction of the play-offs and the Grand Final to determine the Super League champions in 1998, there have been suggestions we should recognise an outstanding player of the Super League era. We believe now is the right time to make a change that brings the award recognition into the new era, and Rob Burrow is the right man.”
Rhodri Jones, managing director of Rugby League Commercial, said: “It is an honour to introduce the Rob Burrow Award for the outstanding performer in the Super League Grand Final. Rob has transcended rugby league, both with the skill, speed and courage he showed on the field and more recently with his
inspirational response having been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Today’s announcement is a show of our gratitude to Rob for being the player he was, and a sign of rugby league’s support to him and his family in the battle against MND.”
RL Commercial have commissioned a new award which will be unveiled at the start of the 2024 Betfred Super League play-offs in September. The winner of the Rob Burrow Award will be determined in the same way as the Harry Sunderland Trophy, through a poll of RLWBA members attending the Grand Final.