Ricky Gervais has used some of his typical dark humour in sending his well wishes to stricken English rugby league great Rob Burrow.
Burrow, who won eight premierships in the English Super League, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease late last year at the age of 37.
On Thursday Burrow’s friend and former teammate Stevie Ward contacted Gervais to see if he would send Burrow a kind word or two.
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And Gervais replied in hilarious fashion, bemoaning Ward for interrupting his “f***ing busy” schedule.
"Alright, Rob. Your mate Stevie Ward got in contact, and said you were a big fan - thank you,” Gervais said in a video posted to Twitter.
"And would I say a few words, which is good of him... or is it? No skin off his nose, is it?”
Mimicking the conversation between himself and Ward, Gervais said: “Alright, Rick. Do us a favour, will you? Of course I will, Stevie. I've never met ya. What do you need? Oh, would you say a few words?”
"Does he know how busy I am? That's my job, innit? - saying stuff, that is my job.
"Would I call up your mate Stevie and say, 'Alright Stevie, you're a rugby player. would you come round to my garden and run round with a boll**k shaped ball for an hour?' No I wouldn't.
"So here's a few words. Tell your mate Stevie to keep his good ideas to himself in future will you? Cheers."
Burrow found the message hilarious, tweeting in response: "Oi, @rickygervais, Thank you so much for the message, it means everything!”
Ward was also rapt, posting: "This is what happens when I try to do something for my pal @Rob7Burrow. @rickygervais’ DONE with Hollywood. He’s finished off @apple and @amazon. Then he comes for little old Leeds and our funny shaped balls...Stitch up..."
This is what happens when I try to do something for my pal @Rob7Burrow. @rickygervais’ DONE with Hollywood. He’s finished off @apple and @amazon. Then he comes for little old Leeds and our funny shaped balls...— Stevie Ward (@Ste_Ward) January 15, 2020
Burrow ‘fine with dying’
Burrow, who at 165cm was the smallest player in Super League, retired after winning his eighth grand final at the end of the 2017 season - having played almost 500 games for Leeds Rhinos.
He said he felt completely fine despite the diagnosis and the prospect of dying didn’t bother him.
However the thought of his kids - who are all under the age of eight - growing up without him was heartbreaking.
“Apart from my voice and other bits and bats with my muscles, I feel absolutely normal. Obviously this is a big time, with people finding out, but once it dies down I am pretty keen to just get on with life,” he told the UK Telegraph.
“The average lifespan is three years, but I’m a lot younger and older people might give up but I’m not going to give up. I haven’t got a goal in my head but unrealistic is 10 years; realistic I think is five years.
“The worst thing for me is people pitying me. I know it’s going to come, but I want to be as normal as ever.
“I'm fine with dying, it’s not being able to watch your kids grow up so if there’s ever an incentive to be around for a while, I’ve got it.”
Motor Neurone Disease - which affects the brain and the nervous system - causes weakness which gets worse over time and is almost always fatal.
There is no cure, though treatment is available to reduce its impact on daily life.