SIMON Bonetti has all but shut the door on what would have been a fairytale return to rugby league this year.
The 2002 Sydney Roosters premiership player and famed local product was considering coming out of retirement to play a full season with the Yenda Blueheelers in Group 20, with a view to joining the Italian rugby league team's debut World Cup campaign in October in England and Wales.
The 36-year-old took the Christmas break to mull over what he described to The Area News last month as a "once in a lifetime" opportunity and at one stage he had succumbed to the temptation and mentally committed to Yenda.
But having wrestled with the decision for weeks, Bonetti knew as soon as he returned to his farm after his family holiday that it would be almost mission impossible.
"I actually had decided. One day I'd make up my mind that I would play and the next I'd say that I'd better not," he said.
"But once I got back to work, I just realised it was never going to work out.
"I've got too many other things going on in my life and other priorities like my family and my farm.
"I just don't think I'd be able to give it the commitment it deserves.
"I've had my time in sport and done what I've done, but priorities change.
"It's something I would have liked to have done, but I don't think I can fit it in."
However, despite fear that injury could render him unable to both play and work, Bonetti still could not categorically rule out a comeback.
"I turned 36 a few days ago and you're more a chance of getting injured when your body is not ready for it.
"But if the days get shorter and there's not as much work and I still feel like coming, and the offer is there, the window is still open," he said.
Such is Bonetti's burning desire to pull on the boots again and represent Italy.
But Blueheelers coach Roy Romeo said he can no longer hold out for the former NRL star, and is planning for 2013 as if he will not be there.
"We're not holding our breath.
"We've got to fill the spot, we can't wait forever or pressure him anymore," Romeo said.
"We're disappointed but we completely understand and respect Simon's decision. It's fair enough.
"It would have been great for the city, for league in general and for us, but that's his choice and we've got to move on."
Romeo named Albert Cook as the "prime candidate" for the vacant No.9 jersey that Bonetti would have slotted straight into.