Liam Bowron still finds it hard to wrap his head around the year that was.
The coronavirus pandemic left the Marist College rugby captain fearing his final year of school football would pass him by and force him to miss a crucial year of his development.
But now the openside flanker has a chance to go out with a bang as he prepares to lead Marist into the ACT Junior Rugby Union First XV grand final against St Edmund's College at Viking Park on Saturday.
So now the ACT Brumbies academy prospect has set his sights on sparking an upset over their unbeaten rivals before taking the next step on his rugby journey.
This showdown between Canberra's premier rugby schools will, for most, serve as their last stand in college colours. Then comes the chance to chase a Super Rugby dream, or a shot with the Canberra Raiders in the 13-man code.
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"[Winning] would be a good way to finish. It's been a really weird year this year, it's been up and down," Bowron said.
"We started the season and everything was tracking along well, and then it gets shut down, kicks off again in a shortened season.
"It's a bit hard to wrap your head around, but we're just happy to be playing because we love it. We all just play because we love it.
"We got one under 18s trial game in at the start of the season, and we were supposed to have a Marist trial game the week after but then it all got shut down.
"It was hard, it was the first week, we had one game and ripped in. Everyone was excited for the rest of the season and looking forward to it, and then we found out on one of the bus rides home. The coach said 'nah, they've scratched it'."
The First XV decider will serve as the closing act in a blockbuster double-header with the ACTJRU under 18 girls grand final between Daramalan College and the Wests Lions.
It serves as a chance for players like St Edmund's fullback Junior Tupou to go out on a high after the coronavirus pandemic derailed his hopes of playing for the Raiders in the NSWRL's SG Ball competition.
"My mum registered me in the local league club to toughen me up when I was five years old and loved playing the sport since," Tupou said.
"I didn't really play rugby until I started at St Edmund's College in 2016, and one of the reasons I went there was to learn to play rugby.
"I'm grateful that we were able to play rugby and I got to represent my school again this year. I have been quite humbled by the many opportunities rugby and league have provided me over the past few years and have met some amazing people along the way.
"I will continue to play and further develop my skills and hope to be a good role model in my family and community."
St Edmund's have gone unbeaten in eight games this year, toppling Marist 55-24 and 47-34 in their two meetings to date. So it's fair for Marist centre Matias Jensen to say "defence is what's going to win us the game" this weekend.
It would be a perfect way for the year 11 student to kickstart his dream of rising through the Brumbies ranks and cracking the Super Rugby side in the coming years.
"[They're] all really great footy players [at the Brumbies], pre-COVID it was good to see them around and witness their hard work and what they do at training," Jensen said.
"It was a good insight into their level and what us players in the academy should be striving for."
ACTJRU UNDER 18 GIRLS GRAND FINAL
Saturday: Wests Lions v Daramalan College at Viking Park, 2pm.
ACTJRU FIRST XV GRAND FINAL
Saturday: St Edmund's College v Marist College at Viking Park, 4pm.