In a six-figure pre-empt, Pan Macmillan has scooped the autobiography of former rugby league player Rob Burrow, an ex-Leeds Rhinos legend diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019.
Non-fiction publisher Robin Harvie bought world rights for Too Many Reasons to Live from Ruth Cairns at Featherstone Cairns. It will be published in hardback, audio and e-book in August 2021.
Pan Mac said: “Too Many Reasons to Live is the extraordinary story of Rob’s life as the perennial underdog who has taken to his fight with MND with the same irrepressible courage as he took on his opponents on the pitch.”
Burrow has been described as one of the greatest rugby league players of all time. At only 5'4" tall and weighing 70kg at his peak, he was half the weight of some other team mates. But during his time at Leeds he was the multiple winner of the Super League, Challenge Cup, World Cup Challenge, League Leader's Shield and the Harry Sunderland man of the match trophy in 2007 and 2011.
In December 2019, shortly after retiring, he received the devastating news that he was suffering from motor neurone disease, a degenerative illness that attacks the nerve cells in the brain. When he made the news public it was received with an outpouring of affection and support. In 2020, the BBC followed him for a year and the resulting documentary “My Year with MND” has been watched by two million people so far. More recently, former Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield ran seven marathons in seven days, raising nearly £3m for Burrow and the Motor Neurone Disease Association. The 2020 Sports Personality of the Year Awards also featured a special segment on him.
Burrow said: “I am really excited for my story to be told as it is a true underdog story. Against all odds I became successful in a sport played by the biggest of men. The adversity gave me a fighting chance as I now face an impossible opponent, and my fight to stay alive!”
Harvie added: “Books like Rob’s don't come along very often. His is a story of extraordinary courage, inspiration, kindness and sheer bloody mindedness, and we are extremely proud to be working with Rob on his book.”
Cairns commented: “It’s difficult to convey quite how much Rob Burrow means to so many people. Rarely has a sportsman been more adored by his fans, and the courage he has shown this year has been testament to his extraordinary character. In these troubled times, this is a book that will provide inspiration for so many who are facing their own struggles, and I’m delighted that it’s found such a passionate home with Pan Macmillan.”