Wes Burrows is being remembered as “a great rugby man” and respected hydrologist and groundwater modeller after losing his battle with motor neurone disease.
Wes Burrows is being remembered as “a great rugby man” and respected hydrologist and groundwater modeller after losing his battle with motor neurone disease.

Rugby great dies after long battle with disease

A Queensland rugby union great and popular Churchie old boy has died after a short battle with motor neurone disease.

Wes Burrows, 51, succumbed to the muscle weakening disease on August 18, leaving behind partner Jane Mills and their two young sons Finn and Oliver.

"We are forever proud of Wes, his strength to the very last breath was incredible," Ms Mills said. "We feel the love shared for all of us."

Tributes have flowed on Facebook for Mr Burrows, who aside from his rugby prowess was a respected hydrologist and groundwater modeller.

Greg "Marto" Martin, from Triple M's Big Breakfast, said it was "very sad news; he was a very talented, super bloke".

Damon Emtage, deputy headmaster at Brisbane Boys' College and a former Reds assistant coach, posted: "RIP Wes, a great teammate and character", while Simon Kasprowicz, former Waratah and the brother of cricketer Michael Kasprowicz, simply said: "Rest in peace, Wes."

Born in Biloela, Wes Burrows boarded at Anglican Church Grammar School where he played for the elite college's 1st XV in 1985 and 1986.

In the early 1990s he was selected to play alongside future Wallabies Garrick Morgan, Brett Johnstone and Brett Robinson in a Queensland Country team touring Scotland, and also represented his state in matches against Italy and the US.

Wes Burrows, partner Jane Mills with their children Finn and Oliver on a family holiday in Italy in December 2019. Photo: Facebook
Wes Burrows, partner Jane Mills with their children Finn and Oliver on a family holiday in Italy in December 2019. Photo: Facebook

Well-known also in Rockhampton, where he studied applied science and physics at Central Queensland University, he captained its senior A-grade side to win several grand finals.

CQ University Rugby Union Club said he was arguably its best player of the 90s, "the perfect player, full of great balance, toughness and speed".

Mr Burrows moved to Brisbane in 1996 and joined Brisbane Barbarians (Norths) before switching to Souths Rugby Union Club where he played in two grand finals and helped clinch the premiership over Wests in 1998.

Described as "nature's gentleman", "a great rugby man" and "one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet", Souths remembered also him as an "extremely dangerous player" with "great balance, footwork, toughness and speed".

Mr Burrows retired from playing shortly after to focus on his family and his career.

In 2016, he gained a doctorate in philosophy (in environmental model calibration and uncertainty analysis) from Flinders University, and in 2004 a master of geographic information sciences from the University of Calgary.

Motor neurone disease (MND) is a neurodegenerative disease that causes rapidly progressive muscle weakness, affecting movement, speech and breathing.

About 1400 Australians are living with MND, which typically affects people in their mid-50s and survival is two to five years, according to Neuroscience Research Australia. There is no cure.

Originally published as Rugby great, Churchie old boy dies of MND


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