HE’S endured back-to-back grand final heartbreak over the past two years.
So it’s no surprise Queanbeyan Blues forward Aaron McInnes is hoping this year proves third time lucky as the competition heavyweights kick off their finals campaign this Sunday.
McInnes captained Wests to successive grand final defeats in ACT Rugby’s John I Dent Cup competition in 2011 and 2012 before linking up with the Blues this season.
And having shown little ill-effect from his code switch, he now stands just one game away from a third straight grand final appearance.
The Blues will take on the Queanbeyan Kangaroos in Sunday’s major semi-final with the winner to earn direct passage to this year’s Canberra Raiders Cup decider.
McInnes acknowledged the past two years had left him with “unfinished business” in rugby union. But the Blues junior said it had just been the right time to return to the 13-man code this season.
“It was obviously disappointing to lose both of those grand finals the last two years,” he said. “In 2011 we got blown off the park but last year I think we were pretty unlucky not to win it.
“There’s probably a little bit of unfinished business there but I’ve moved on from it. Wests have got a lot of young blokes coming through at the moment so it was the right time to move on.
“I played 13 years in rugby union and have a lot of good mates at Wests but coming back to league was the refresher I needed to keep me excited about playing footy.
“Hopefully with a new code and a different challenge it might be a case of third time lucky this year.”
Standing in the way of McInnes and a shot at grand final redemption will be a battle-hardened Kangaroos outfit aiming for a fourth-straight title fight of its own.
The last time the two sides met less than a month ago saw the Roos celebrate a 14-12 victory. And McInnes said the Blues would have to be “ruthless” if they’re to turn the tables on their cross-town rivals.
“It was definitely a hard and physical match the last time we played them and no question they were better than us that day,” he said.
“Everyone knows finals footy is a different competition and the Kangaroos have been in the last three grand finals so they know how to handle it. Everyone knows how good a side they are.
“They play a very physical game with a big set of forwards and we’ve got to match them there and really out enthuse them across the park.”