Rob Burrow was the ­bravest and toughest man I’ve ever played alongside –and he’ll approach his battle with motor neurone disease in exactly the same way.

Anybody who regularly watches rugby league knows most players stand over 6ft tall and weigh over 16 stone.

Rob, 37, is under 5ft 6in and less than 12st, but he played like a 6ft 5in guy – and he did that every single week.

He never shirked anything on the field and some of the great clips of him playing are having a go at men who were miles ­bigger than he is.

He will approach this fight in the same manner - he knows he’s up against it, but he’ll give it everything he’s got.

He’s a kid with a really good sense of humour and a great heart. And those two things are major positives for what Rob has in front of him.

Rob Burrow has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease

It’s also the reason he had such a good career and why he’s so well respected within the game.

We’ve seen that with the ­outpouring of support on social media and the fundraising that’s already taken place.

These are the times when you really find out where you stand in people’s thoughts and how close your mates are, and ­everyone has rallied around Rob.

When you’re a sportsperson it also shows how you’re perceived by the general public – and all of the attention and messages that Rob has received is totally and utterly deserved.

But it’s also important to ­understand Rob is much more than just a rugby player.

He’s a family man with his wife ­Lindsey and their three young children, all under the age of eight.

Rob Burrow pictured with his daughters

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Our thoughts are firmly with all of them now, and making sure they will be OK for the rest of their lives.

A group of seven or eight of us are getting together to try and raise as much as we possibly can, firstly with the family in mind and if we go above a target we set, then towards research into motor neurone disease.

It’s a disease that hasn’t got the funding or place in the ­public eye that it should have given how debilitating it is for those that have it.

It’s heartbreaking, that’s the only word for it, but everybody who knows Rob, and plenty more who don’t, will be fully ­behind him for the challenges that lie ahead.