HE likens his first season with the Queanbeyan Whites to a “roller coaster”.
And it’s a wild ride that now has South African forward Marco Kotze and his Queanbeyan teammates one game away from a John I Dent Cup grand final berth.
Kotze was an immense presence for the Whites in the side’s crushing 45-18 victory over Wests in last Sunday’s semi-final at Viking Park.
The victory means Queanbeyan will face Royals this weekend for the right to challenge the Tuggeranong Vikings for premiership glory.
It was also the perfect birthday gift for the 27-year-old Kotze who has made himself a new home in Queanbeyan this season.
But it wasn’t that long ago things weren’t looking so positive for the Johannesburg native.
With the Whites battling poor form and Kotze battling injury concerns earlier this year, the blockbusting loose forward’s Australian adventure appeared destined for disappointment.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster,” Kotze acknowledged. “For the team and for me personally with a few injuries that have set me back.
“But during any season there are challenges. I always say that an average team will let those challenges keep them down but a great team gets up from them and looks to each other to push forward.
“We looked to each other to work out what we had to do to turn things around and you can see how everything has come together.”
After the side’s midseason slump that saw the Queanbeyan win just one game over an eight-week period, the Whites have turned things around to win seven of their past eight matches.
In something of a concern for Queanbeyan however, the side’s one defeat during that resurgence came at the hands of their preliminary final opponents – a 26-15 loss to Royals in the final round of the regular season.
But Kotze said there was little either side would be taking out of their previous clash which was nothing more than a dead rubber. Hardly replicate of Saturday’s sudden-death showdown.
“You could tell our focus in our last game against [Royals] was already on the finals,” Kotze said. “I don’t think that match will reflect what we’re going to bring to the table this week at all.
“You can already see the guys are getting their aggression levels up and that we’re going to do everything we need to do to bring that cup back to Queanbeyan.”
Regardless of Saturday's first grade result, Queanbeyan is already assured of a presence on grand final day.
The club's second grade, third grade and fourth grade sides all moved directly through to their respective deciders after major semi-final victories last Saturday.
The Whites also remain a chance of qualifying for grand finals in Colts and in the Women's division.
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