Rob Burrow says Doddie Weir was a ‘beacon of light’ for MND sufferers to follow

Former rugby league player Rob Burrow has paid tribute to Doddie Weir for helping him deal with his own diagnosis of motor neurone disease.

The ex-Scotland rugby union international died on Saturday after a six-year battle with the disease, which Burrow discovered he had in 2019.

“His positive outlook and attitude was central to how I decided I was going to take on my own challenge with MND,” he wrote in the Daily Mail.

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“His attitude was exactly what I needed. When I was diagnosed, all anyone told me about was how bad it would be, but Doddie was totally different.

“I suppose being sportspeople, we see challenges and think about how we can beat them and turn things in our favour.

“He showed us all the way and did it every time with a laugh and a joke. He gave the MND community a voice and he became a beacon of light that we could all follow.”

Weir, who won 61 caps, raised more than £8million for MND research via his My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and Burrow now wants the Government to honour its pledge to provide more funding.

“He has inspired millions of pounds of fundraising that has turned the course of research,” added Burrow.

“But we now need the Government to keep their promise to Doddie and the 5,000 people living with MND in the UK.

“The Government pledged £50million to research over a year ago, yet that money frustratingly has not yet been handed to researchers. The Prime Minister can change that by keeping his Government’s promise.”

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Edinburgh Rugby head coach Mike Blair, meanwhile, hopes Weir’s Foundation continues to flourish.

“You see the impact it (Weir’s death) has had, probably not just on the rugby community, but the general community in Scotland,” said the 41-year-old, who crossed paths with Weir at various hospitality events.

“You could see how many people he touched with the work he did for MND. Hopefully that will continue and leave a bit of a legacy and people will really get behind the fund-raising and find a cure for MND, which Doddie’s gone a huge way to trying to do.

“It’s really sad for his family first and foremost but also the people who shared part of their rugby journey with him.”