Canberra Raiders Cup, grand final
Who: Queanbeyan Kangaroos v Belconnen United Scholars
Where: Seiffert Oval
When: Sunday, 3pm
WHILE Queanbeyan Kangaroos lock Troy Whiley stands on the verge of a third-straight Canberra Raiders Cup grand final appearance this weekend, there’s no danger of the likeable forward taking the Roos’ premiership stage for granted.
After all, it wasn’t so long ago Whiley had resigned himself to perhaps never even featuring in finals footy with his beloved Roos, let alone standing on the door of an historic title ‘three-peat’.
Whiley is one of only three club juniors alongside Matt Lewis and rookie Brett Solomon set to feature in the Kangaroos’ grand final line-up this weekend.
And having come through the Roos ranks, the 26-year-old went through more than his share of rough times in his younger days while wearing the maroon and white strip.
“Back in those days up until about 2008 I thought I was going to be one of those blokes who went through their whole career without ever winning a premiership, maybe not even ever making the top four,” Whiley told The Queanbeyan Age. “Let’s be honest, the club was struggling at the time to get eight players to training during the week.
“I was there in the dark times when we were getting flogged and to turn it around the way we have the past three years is absolutely ridiculous.
“To win one grand final off the back of that is a big achievement. To go back-to-back and then to be here again this year going for three in a row, it’s hard to believe.”
Whiley said it was no coincidence the Roos’ revival had coincided with the arrival of Aaron Gorrell who took over the club’s coaching reins in 2010.
At the time, Gorrell’s signature was considered a major coup for the club and that early enthusiasm has proved well-founded with the ex-NRL representative have transformed the Kangaroos from mob to rugby league machine.
“We’d never had a preseason like the first year he came to the club,” Whiley recalls. “He came here and he absolutely flogged us and we needed it.
“The team needed someone who was willing to stand his ground and throw some new ideas around and that’s what Aaron has done, he’s turned this club upside down.”
This weekend will see the Kangaroos take on the Belconnen United Scholars for the second time in three years as the two sides battle it out for grand final glory at Seiffert Oval.
Barring Gorrell himself, the Roos will be at full strength for the clash while the Scholars could be without key playmaker Brent Crisp who suffered a hamstring injury in his side’s preliminary-final victory over Yass.