The England assistant appeared alongside his best friend, the inspiration Rob Burrow

What a moment it was as the Helen Rollason award was presented at Sports Personality of the Year. The word ‘powerful’ barely covers it as we heard an emotional Kevin Sinfield SPOTY speech pay tribute to his best friend Rob Burrow – whom he called “the most inspirational bloke in the UK” for his continued work and positivity since his diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019.

Burrow’s Helen Rollason Award is given in recognition of outstanding achievement in the face of adversity, while Sinfield also received a special award for his incredible efforts running seven ultra-marathons in seven days, in November – raising £1.5m for motor neurone disease charities.

The late, great Doddie Weir also received plaudits from Burrow, who said, via an eye-controlled computer: “This is for the MND warriors.

“We will not stop until we find a cure. I am inspired to keep going by my friend Kevin.

Related:  How Kevin Sinfield defence tactics can transform England

“I’m totally overcome with this award due to the amount of amazing people who have won this before. In particular my MND hero, Doddie Weir.

“What a fantastic guy he was. I don’t think I would be here today without meeting him less than a week into my diagnosis. I will accept the award on his behalf.”

Weir’s family were present for the award as was former lock Ed Slater, who announced in July this year that he had been diagnosed with MND.

Related: Rugby mourns the passing of Doddie Weir

On receiving his own award, England defence coach Sinfield said: “From the start this has been a big team effort.

“Everyone has got behind what we have tried to do. Rob is probably the most inspirational bloke in the UK. He has inspired us to be better friends. In sport and certainly in rugby, the connections you make, the friends don’t just stop when the whistle goes.

“Sport is powerful enough to bring communities together. What we have witnessed is a nation that cares about the MND community.

“Doddie (Weir) used to say MND isn’t incurable, it’s just under-funded. We’ve got to keep fighting. We will keep banging the drum.”

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