MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: Tom Barrass of the Eagles in action during the round 18 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the West Coast Eagles at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 17, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

West Coast interceptor Tom Barrass has shot down claims that he was mere inches away from joining Sydney at the trade table, stating that a deal to make tracks for the Harbour City was never close to eventuating.

Throughout the latter stages of the 2021 and 2023 seasons, Barrass, a Claremont product and a Western Australian native, was linked heavily with a shift to the Swans in a deal that would have seen the rebuilding Eagles net several early draft choices.

However, while the one-time John Worsfold medallist stressed he understood why Sydney had been seeking his services, he told 7 News that he was never close to crossing the Nullarbor.

"It seemed to me that a number of clubs approach teams that are struggling to try and get an established player in return for some high draft picks, and that's the game when you're rebuilding," Barrass said candidly.

While Swans list boss Kinnear Beatson contended publicly that Barrass' management had, in fact, made contact with the Swans, the defender was at pains to point out that he had never even spoken with Beatson.

"(A trade to Sydney was) not very close," Barrass noted.

"I was disappointed hearing a few comments come out of the Sydney camp.

"Given that I don't know the man (Beatson), (and) have never heard his name, it probably shows you how close the deal was to getting done."

In every deal, either completed or scuttled, tough choices from clubs, management and players alike must be made.

And for Barrass, an inked-up Eagle until the end of the 2027 season, his process of coming of deciding whether to stay or go was based on connectivity rather than the bottom line.

"It's not an easy thing to turn away millions of dollars, it's actually not," Barrass stressed.

"You must think about truly what you value. Is it new experience, or is it established relationships with a huge club and a huge community and those people that mean a lot to you? And for me, after very short consideration, it was exactly that (the latter).

"My priority is always my family, and in considering that, it became clear to me that the biggest opportunity in my life was to play a lead role in bringing this footy club back to juggernaut status."

The next portion of West Coast's build back to prominence begins when the Eagles do battle with Fremantle (Saturday, February 24 at Mineral Resources Park) and Adelaide (Saturday, March 2 at Hisense Stadium) across the course of the pre-season.

Barrass and the Eagles will begin their 2024 season proper when they travel to face Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday, March 17.