Bradford Bulls halfback Jordan Lilley has spoken about the influence Rob Burrow and Jamie Jones-Buchanan had on his career as a young player.
The 23-year-old was part of the Bradford side that faced Leeds in Sunday’s joint testimonial fundraiser, celebrating the careers of both players and raising money for Burrow following his recent motor neurone disease diagnosis.
Lilley came through the Leeds academy where he was coached by Burrow, while he played at amateur level for Stanningley, who are Jones-Buchanan’s former side.
“It was a brilliant occasion they put on,” he said. “Ultimately it was for two great men who’ve done great things in the game.
“Towards the end it was emotional seeing all the legends come on – a lot of them were players who I’d played with when I was coming through as a young lad, who looked after me and nurtured me, so it was brilliant.”
As a talented young scrum-half coming through the Rhinos’ system, being coached by the two-time Harry Sunderland Trophy winner was a privilege for Lilley.
The pair worked closely together on the training paddock but it’s Burrow’s effort to go above and beyond off the field that Lilley holds in such high regard.
“Rob’s an outstanding human and as a player he looked after me,” the Bulls youngster added. “He’d sit down and talk to me about how to improve my game and was really good not just as a coach but a mate as well.
“When I went to Bradford and I wasn’t even playing at Leeds anymore, he’d ring me up to see how I was getting on. He always had my best interests at heart and cared enough to ring me up even when I wasn’t his teammate. I owe him a lot.”
It’s a similar story with Jones-Buchanan, who knew Lilley in his days as a junior at Stanningley Rugby League Club.
Not only did he help nurture him as a player, it was also JJB who prompted him to consider his career away from rugby league.
“Jamie helped me massively. He was asking what I was going to do after rugby’s finished. I thought about it and it is massive to have something else to do when you’re not playing rugby.
“So I’ve set up my own fitness business now and have my own gym and Jonesy kind of inspired me to do that.
“They’re just two great blokes. I could tell you millions of things they’ve done for me – those are just a couple of little snippets.
“I was really pleased and quite emotional that they got that massive send off and I wish them both all the best.”