THE Perth Football Club was always hopeful that Fraser McInnes would return to his original WAFL club at some stage and now that has happened for the 2020 season with the versatile big man committed to the cause of helping the Demons to finals action.
McInnes came through the junior ranks at the Demons and then played colts football in 2011 before being picked up later that same year by the West Coast Eagles in the AFL National Draft with selection 28.
He has remained with the Eagles ever since and after playing his first 37 league matches with the Demons, he joined East Perth as part of West Coast's partnership in 2014 and went on to play 76 games with the Royals.
He was also a fairest and best winner with East Perth before captaining the West Coast Eagles WAFL reserves team in 2019. He was set to go around with the Eagles again in 2020 before the COVID-19 global pandemic struck and everything was thrown in the air.
Suddenly if there was to be a WAFL competition in 2020, it wouldn’t include an Eagles reserves team, so McInnes faced the potential of being forced to miss an entire year of football unless West Coast granted him the chance to play elsewhere.
That's exactly what happened and McInnes never thought of signing anywhere other than his original club Perth, and now he can't wait for this Saturday's Round 1 clash which pits the Demons against Peel Thunder at Mandurah's David Grays Arena.
While McInnes, along with fellow Eagles WAFL teammates Andrew Fisher and Brady Grey, are on loan to the Demons for 2020 and are expected to return to West Coast for 2021, there is no question the trio are throwing themselves fully into life at Perth.
That's something that comes naturally to McInnes as well given his history with the Demons. And now that he is back at the club he would love nothing more than to help them to a first finals appearance since 1997.
"It's funny how things work out and everything has come full circle, but I'm just really excited for the season ahead now. It has been really energising to be part of a fresh group and seeing where this group at Perth is at," McInnes told 91.3 SportFM.
"There is definitely the feeling that they are building in the right direction and that's something that was a bit of a carrot and reason why I wanted to come back this year.
"I think they are heading in the right direction and aren't far off from breaking back into finals. If I can play a part in that, then that would be a big sense of achievement for myself."
McInnes didn’t play much of a part in luring Grey and Fisher to joining Perth as well for the 2020 season once the Eagles weren’t going to be fielding a team in the competition, but he sure isn’t complaining that they came to the same decision he did.
"It was funny with how it all worked out actually. I was set on going to Perth but wasn’t going to pressure anyone else to join me and wanted everyone to do what was best for them," he said.
"But with Brady working at the Wirra Foundation right next to the Perth footy club, logistically that works well for him.
"And Fish was used to travelling to Lathlain to play with the Eagles so once Brady and myself committed to going to Perth, I think he was keen to keep some strength in numbers and wanted to come along too.
"I'm glad that the three of us go to Perth together but we all genuinely feel like the club is on the right track too and we want to help them out in playing finals football."
It continues an eventful past 10 months for McInnes since the Eagles lost the first semi-final to Claremont going back to last year to end their 2019 season.
He was delisted from the Eagles but then employed to work with the club and he agreed to continue on as captain of West Coast's reserves team in the WAFL.
But then COVID-19 struck and eventually when the AFL season got up and going again it was decided no AFL-listed players would take part in state league competitions for this year and that ruled the Eagles out from fielding their team in the WAFL.
So McInnes had a choice to make to see if it would be a possible to find a new temporary home for the 2020 WAFL season once it gets underway or if he would be forced to sit out the year completely from on-field action.
In the end, he couldn’t be happier with how it's turned out and now has turned his sole focus to helping Perth to a successful season and to hopefully take part in a first finals campaign in 23 years.
"I was delisted at the end of 2019 and then I signed on purely as a WAFL-listed player for 2020 so I wasn’t AFL-listed anymore but was lucky enough to pick up a community and coaching role with the Eagles," McInnes said.
"That fit well that I wanted to go back and keep playing with the WAFL Eagles after we helped create a solid foundation in year one which made the finals, and won that final against West Perth. So I was heavily invested in it but I'm really happy with how things have worked out currently so I can have a kick this year still.
"Craig Vozzo gave me a call when it was announced that the AFL players wouldn’t be allowed to play in any second tier competitions so that clearly meant we wouldn’t still be able to field a side. They gave us the blessing and said they wanted us boys to still have a kick this year, and that they would support our decision.
"I was pretty set on playing at Perth and it's just the right feel, and I wanted to go back to where it all started. But also paying respect to East Perth where I played a fair bit of footy there and had some good mates and memories there. West Coast was fully behind our decision, though, and want us to be having a kick still this year wherever it is."
As such a versatile and mobile tall player, McInnes has always been able to be used in a variety of roles for whichever club he has played for, but it has been in that role as a key forward with stints pinch hitting in the ruck that seems to suit him best.
That's exactly the role he is now expecting to fill at the Demons for 2020.
"I think at times with the alignment club I was probably jumping around a lot more from forward, ruck and back just filling holes where it was needed," McInnes said.
"But I think now Perth might want to keep me more as a key forward. That's probably an area they've probably been trying to find for a while, someone to play a key post for them. So I think I'll play as a key forward for the most part and maybe pinch hit in the ruck at times.
"It will be pretty similar to normal and it might just depend as well if they want to go in with two rucks or to have me backing up the first ruck. It will be a pretty similar role and we'll wait and see."